Being Human. Chapter 7: Processes Of Social Influence: Conformity, Compliance And Obedience

Now imagine the following graduation exercises at a typical North American university. They were designed to create a memorable occasion with the aid of majestic music, ritual words of graduation, and students being uniformed in their academic regalia. It is also, to the social psychologist, an opportunity to observe the forces of social influence up close. Somehow, some 4,500 students from the Oregon state University in Corvallis, Oregon, manage to have their individual degrees delivered with an almost factory like efficiency that perhaps represents best U.S. society. At the same time, the faculty are dressed in their medieval academic regalia, and are without doubt authority figures to many. Students obey directions, even standing up to two hours in line. The students line up in a particular order and conform to the requests, which determines the sequence in which they receive their prized document. Then they follow in majestic formation the Scottish band that precedes the parade through the university campus. When all are seated in the university stadium, with the president, deans, and honored guests on the podium, the ceremonies begins. There are places for the audience to participate. Standing up for the national anthem produces universal conformity. The students and faculty also know that women may keep their hats on, while men, with one exception, bare their heads. There is also time to graduate military officers with a holy oath to defend the country from all enemies, foreign or domestic. This is followed by a roaring display of approval from the tens of thousands of family and friends. The applause from students and faculty is nearly universal. However, the individual who does not bare his head during the anthem evidently does not approve of the military and may be observed sitting with his hands folded. Several of his neighbors now apparently feel the same way, as they also refrain from clapping. A minority of one seems to have influenced the behavior of those who can observe his nonconformist behavior. Then the alma mater is sung where the audience pretends to be in love with a non-personal entity, the university. Here the president and deans outdo themselves in demonstrating their fidelity to the institution even though many are relatively new to the university and must quickly have adopted these new feelings.
Could you imagine such a ceremony in for example a random Norwegian or Dutch university?

The above-sketched picture illustrates some of the processes of social influence, the subject of this chapter. In described situation we can observe people comply with the requests of authority figures, being persuaded by the audience to stand at various times, take their hats on and off, yell their approval of the military. The experience reflected informational conformity, for example responding to the need to know where to stand in the line. It also reflected normative conformity as in the universal rising for the anthem. Not one person refused to do that so the national anthem must have exerted a great deal of social pressure. The graduation ceremony also demonstrated obedience to authority, reinforced by the status of those leading the events, and academic gowns with symbols of status, authority, and expertise.

None were hurt by the conformity on display. Everyone obtained his/her degree in an efficient manner. Of course they all would anyway whether they participated or not, since they had completed the requirements for graduation before the ceremony. Still, other than the mindlessness it promoted, there was no real harm done. Some might even have benefited in participating. To have public recognition of achievement is experienced as very rewarding by many.

Not all conformity has such beneficial results, as we shall see. Were those who participated in the massacre at My Lai (Vietnam) only following orders? Or were the war criminals at Nuremberg excused by their obedience, in particular Adolf Eichman? The past century has been marked as a time of cruel and repeated genocides. We saw this cruel obedience in Cambodia, we saw it in Bosnia, and we saw it again in Rwanda. And now the same cruelty is being played out in the Darfur region of Sudan in Africa, and countless other places. Are people really that cruel? Is it in human nature to behave in such manifest barbaric ways?

In the US they say, “you have to go along to get along” indicating that conformity is essential to successful social functioning. Often conformity is of the type manifested at the graduation ceremony where people are told in indirect or more or less subtle ways as to what is appropriate behavior. At other times people are commanded to obey by those who have the appearance of legitimate authority. In fact all genocides appeal to and are sanctioned by the authority and ideology of the prevailing society. Usually there is preparatory indoctrination that allows the participant to feel that the genocide is justified and the right thing to do.

In this chapter we shall examine the whole range of social influence, from that which is an expression of social solidarity to those behaviors that reflect destructive ideology and obedience to evil demands. Are people who participate in evil just evil people? Or is it within the capacity of most people to behave in cruel ways? Is obedience to inhuman demands a consequence of unleashing the evil in all of us, a consequence of being human and therefore normal? To what extent does the power of the situation define whether we follow or not the slippery slope to participation. Social psychology has some answers.

1. Social influence: how we change attitudes, beliefs, and feelings
Social influence is the umbrella term that refers to how our speech, nonverbal behavior and actions change others, or reinforce their existing beliefs. We meet with this phenomenon every day. Some bank wants you to use their credit card. Fashions also change and clothing manufactures spend considerable money to convince you that the new fashions are cool, and you should buy. Your boss at work wants you to perform better, and you yield in hopes of promotion or in fear of your job. If you are in the military your options are few, you are given an order, and must obey. These examples demonstrate the presence of the three major types of social influence.

Conformity is where the individual changes his behavior as a result of pressure from others. Sometimes the pressure is obvious and explicit. At other times we have internalized such pressure that few would risk social disapproval although not many can produce good reasons for the behavior. Students become social drinkers as a result of peer pressure, in order to fit in. At times the pressure is toward binge drinking with very unfortunate consequences on health or accidents. Conformity is the tendency to change beliefs or behaviors in order to match that of others (Cialdini & Goldstein, 2004). Most Americans hear conflicting messages from our society about conformity. In a society that prizes individual ruggedness it seems somewhat effete to conform. The Marlboro man who sold cigarettes to millions exemplified the ruggedness of the American male while he rode his horse across the US movie and TV screens. Many yielded to this image and conformed by smoking and it has cost millions their lives. The rugged individuality that appealed to so many was employed to create addicts who did not have any individuality. Eventually the Marlboro man who acted in these commercials died himself of lung cancer.
This episode shows however, the ambivalence of American and perhaps other societies. Conforming is essential to some achieve some degree of social harmony whether in the US, the Netherlands, Norway, or other countries. At the same time we do not want our children to become binge drinkers just because everyone else is doing it. The struggle over involuntary prayer in school in the US has to do with this debate over conformity influences. Are children in other countries exposed to similar pressures to conform? When children are small, adults in charge produce many subtle pressures, in particular a child’s teachers. Is prayer in school a good practice that encourages moral behavior, or is it compelling children to conform in religious beliefs. Does the absence of prayer infringe on religious freedom if the majority wants prayer, or do we have a responsibility to protect the minority from such coercive influences?

Compliance on the other hand is when an individual responds to a specific demand or request from others. Compliance is usually associated with unequal power relationships. You might comply with a request from your parents to study harder and get good grades. If you do not comply there is the implicit possibility of withdrawal of parental approval or financial support. Often in life we are faced with explicit demands that require some change in behavior. However, it is possible to change your behavior while not necessarily your attitudes and feelings. You may work harder at schoolwork and improve your grades while feeling you are still wasting your time in college. At the moment complying seems the best option, until something better comes along.
Obedience is a form of social influence where the individual yields because an individual with power commands you to perform in a particular way. The boss may say, ”I am telling you to improve, I am not asking you”. In the direst circumstances we see obedience at work in all genocidal behavior. Usually genocidal acts are carried out with the support of legitimate authority, by group cohesion, and the perception that the victims are different in a significant way. In Rwanda it was the Tutsi’s, in Darfur it is the non-Arab population, during the cold war it was the communists or anti-communists depending on where you lived. Being able to categorize people as different allowed some to participate in horrible behaviors that destroyed communities, and the souls of the participants. One has to wonder to what extent the delayed stress syndrome, particularly manifest among veterans of the US war on Vietnam, was a consequence of participating, following orders, in the horrible destruction of human life.

As we have also noted sometimes conformity can be beneficial. At times we just do not have sufficient information, we are unsure, or find ourselves in new or unsettling circumstances. We then look to others for some idea of what to do (see also section 7.3). If we did not live with some inhibitions what kind of world would we inherit? When people became angry they would just lash out, in theaters the boorish people would talk loudly, and everyone would push to be in front of the line. Conformity has civilizing effects and helps produce social harmony. As the saying goes: “When in Rome, do as the Romans”. Conformity can also kill the soul through mindless behavior. At the end of the day we make the decision whether to cooperate or participate without reflection (Henrich & Boyd, 1998).

We shall see in this chapter that people would commit acts in a web of social influence that they would never do by themselves as an independent human being. We have seen extreme human behavior such as mass suicides under certain conditions (Ferris, 1997). The so-called Heavens Gate cult committed mass suicide together in 1997. Years before a religious cult led by a reverend Jim Jones committed collective suicide in Jonestown, Guiana. At that time several thousand adults lined up with their children to receive a cool aid drink spiced with cyanide, all under the direction of their leader who took a similar route having a follower shoot him. How can we explain the efficient machinery that produced the holocaust, the atrocities in former Yugoslavia, the massacres in Vietnam? The army company that murdered the civilians at My Lai where not sadists, but normal American draftees who responded to an order to systematically murder everyone in the village (Hersh, 1970).

These are of course extreme examples, but would we have behaved differently? In other words does conformity come from social pressures that are overwhelming to all of us in the same circumstances? Would we all, given the same strong social pressures from other group members, and the power of charismatic leadership, have conformed in the similar circumstances? Is conformity normal?
On the other hand we can also observe from history the good that comes from conformity under very different circumstances. For example India freed itself from the British Empire in that a substantial minority practiced nonviolent protests. Using the same ideals we saw the civil rights era arrive in United States as a result of thousands of Blacks conforming to the principles of nonviolent protests. Many were beaten some were killed, but at the end of the day Black people had more rights and fairness in their lives.

2. The ideomotor effect: William James
Psychologists were from the beginning interested in conformity as the early work of William James (1890) demonstrates. The famous psychologist noted that behavior was often subconscious, and that just thinking about something made it more likely that a person would engage in that behavior. Have you ever sat with your family and someone yawned, and you also felt compelled to join in yawning? Some behaviors are literally copycat behaviors where we unconsciously mimic the behavior of someone else. James called this the ideomotor effect.

This unconscious mimicry of postures, mannerisms, and facial expressions was studied by Chartrand & Bargh (1999). In their study they observed participants mimic simple behaviors like rubbing feet or face initiated by a confederate. They called this mimicking behavior the chameleon effect. They wanted also to understand why we develop this tendency to subconsciously mimic others. The experimenters thought that perhaps those who had a high need for others, a desire for approval, were more likely to conform. This hypothesis was confirmed in several studies (Chartrand & Bargh, 1999; Lakin & Chartrand, 2003). In fact the behavior is reinforcing the person being mimicked, and we like more those who mimic us than those who do not. These positive feelings also spill over into other behaviors as investigators found that when people are mimicked they are also more likely to engage in pro social behaviors like donating money to a good social cause or leaving a large tip for a waitress (Van Baaren, Holland, Kawakami, & Van Knippenberg, 2004) At some level we find it flattering when someone copies our behavior, and we find great enjoyment in seeing a young child speak like his father, or otherwise adopt the mannerisms of an adult.

3. The classical studies in social influence
Conformity was among the earliest social phenomenon studied by social psychologists. The first and most influential study in his day was the study on the auto kinetic illusion performed by Sherif (1936). The effect was demonstrated in a laboratory with small groups of people. The participants would enter a dark room in which a steady light was displayed on a dark wall. Although the light in fact never moved people experienced the light as moving after gazing for a period of time. How do groups influence this illusion of light movement where in fact no light is moving? In reality the light appears to move because there is no stimuli to fix or anchor the light as a reference. Sherif wondered whether other people would serve as a reference and establish some norms for estimated movement. Initially the participants were asked to estimate the length of this illusionary movement. Individuals varied in their estimates, some saying a few inches others more. Sherif then moved the participants together in a room and asked them to call out their estimated (but illusionary) light movements. The question was to see if the estimates of movement would tend to converge in the presence of others, and therefore we might observe how group norms develop. This in fact happened. The varying individual judgments very quickly formed into a group estimate or norm. This is called the auto kinetic effect. Further this experimental norm had apparently long term effects. When the participants were called back a year later, their individual judgments still reflected the previously established norm (Rohrer, Baron, Hoffman, & Swander, 1954).

4. Informational conformity
Why would the participants move toward a group norm? In the dark room they saw the illusion under very ambiguous circumstances. Having nothing to rely on other than the judgments of others they began to form a more or less collective judgment. We are social animals and our ability to get along with others is reflected in our behavior. At times conformity is a form of information seeking, particularly when the conditions create uncertainty and provide no direct answers. Other people can be a source of what is correct, or might be proper behavior when we ourselves are uncertain (Deutsch & Gerard, 1955). The influence of others on our behavior has been demonstrated in many other studies (Baron, Vandello, & Brunsman, 1996; Levine, Higgins, & Choi, 2000). Often this is not just mindless conformity, and people come to believe that the group estimate is correct. Not knowing what is correct, participants come to an acceptance of the correctness of the group norm that developed over time. Informational conformity may serve many useful functions in providing some framework for decisions in ambiguous situations.

There are occasions that are more complex in which we do not know what is a correct response. Some situations are much more serious than establishing the norm for the auto kinetic effect. Killing in drug gangs is a form of conformity. After hurricane Katrina the murderers living in New Orleans were distributed all over the country and for a time did not have their customary network to determine “correct” killing behavior. They were like the participants in the Sherif study, without any guiding norms. The murder rates dropped significantly even though those likely to commit murders were still alive. However, after a period of time the violent men reconstituted their violent gangs and their norms, and the killings resumed. In violence people also look to others for what is proper behavior. Once the shooting had started during the My Lai massacre the other soldiers found it easier to participate. Many soldiers had powerful reservations about the morality of their behavior. In most cases however, the issue was decided in favor of conformity. In ambiguous situations where people lack information they will look to peers and leaders to see what is appropriate. Lt. Calley and the first soldier who obeyed provided that information.

In recent years informational conformity has been demonstrated in other ways. In law enforcement the accurate identification of suspects is extremely important. Unfortunately our ability to identify is often less than accurate as we shall see in chapter 12. When this process is carried out in small groups of three or four where confederates of the experimenter unanimously gave the wrong answer, participants responded with the wrong identification 35 percent of the time. If the issue was perceived as being very important the conformity to the false group identification rose to 51 percent. When the task was difficult and involved recognition memory the groups answer converged as in the Sherif study (Levine, Higgins, & Choi, 2000). The direction of the conformity depended on the frame established by the experimenter. When the frame in the instructions was “risky” the judgment norm became more risky, but when cautious the judgments became more cautious.

This finding has of course important implications for our social world. For example the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba by the US evolved out of misinformation which had been adopted as a norm by the decision making group. Essentially this norm said, “all you have to do is send 1500 soldiers and the Cuban government will collapse” (see also the discussion of groupthink in chapter 6). Similar miscalculations were made by Hitler and his cronies in the attack on the Soviet Union during World War 2, and more recently by the Bush government decision makers in the war on Iraq. In the case of the space shuttle “the Challenger” informational conformity also led to disaster. Despite warnings that there might be equipment failure the decision makers looked to each other, and under pressure to perform made a disastrous decision that led to the loss of the spacecraft and all on board (Schwartz, 2003; Schwartz & Wald, 2003).

4.1 Mass hysteria and informational conformity
When people are in crisis during natural disasters or war they will look to others for how to behave. Often in these situations people have no idea what is going on or how to respond (Killian, 1964). In crisis the need for accurate information is very high, we look to others to find some consensus upon which to base our judgment. In 1938 a curious expression of mass hysteria occurred in the US when the famous actor Orson Welles performed a play based on the science fiction book War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells on the radio. It was performed on Halloween night a time when people’s fantasies were at a peak, and Wells was a very accomplished and convincing actor. The play depicted the invasion of the world by inhabitants of Mars, and the fictional drama was so effective that at least a million listeners were convinced that the earth was under attack by extraterrestrial beings. Several thousands actually got in their cars in an attempt to flee, although it was not clear where they would go (Cantril, 1940). In following up on the mass hysteria Cantril learned that many of those affected had listened to the program with other family members and friends. They then turned to each other to determine what to make of the situation, and being worried and seeing others worried added to the feelings of panic. Many thought they were about to die.

There were of course others who were better prepared. Some had listened to the whole program and knew from the disclaimer at the beginning that it was only a play. Yet others decided to call public services like the police department and learned in this way that there was no danger. Yet others looked at the internal evidence of the play and found reasons to doubt. Nevertheless in this simulated crisis where many did not know what to believe they began to believe they were in the throes of a real disaster, the end of the world. Rather than look for some evidence to disconfirm which was after all a very unusual situation, they tried to interpret the events to fit the image that had formed in their minds. They engaged in mass hysteria, and thereby also reinforced this hysterical view in family, friends, and others.

Such emotions can pass rapidly through a crowd. Le Bon (1896) spoke of a contagion effect. People by themselves may behave in rational and civilized ways, but in crowds they become barbarians. We have seen so many examples from history from national crowds getting all whipped up with fervor in times of war, to the behavior of lynch mobs hanging innocent victims. Populations support with passion their national governments until the reality of grievous losses begin to affect the collective mind. This was what happened in the US during the war on Vietnam. During the world cup football we can see similar, although more innocuous behaviors, where spectators get caught up in national passion, even though it is after all just a game. Even when other people are not well informed we, in our ignorance, will often adopt this behavior with tragic consequences in some cases, and mindlessness in others.

A similar phenomenon is the so-called mass psychogenic illness. Here people begin to manifest similar physical symptoms even though subsequently it is shown that there are no physical causes for the illness (Bartholomew & Wessely, 2002). In one school a teacher began to experience headaches and nausea after smelling gasoline. Soon students experienced similar symptoms, and ambulances were called and the school was shut down. Subsequent investigations showed that there was absolutely no cause for the symptoms or the alarm. This example also manifested a form of informational conformity in the presence of crisis and ambiguity (Altman, 2000). Today we have the additional problem of speed of communication in our global community. In the ancient times populations were limited in travel and means of communication, so hysteria had a lower effect on the rest of the world. Today hysteria can be spread in seconds through mobile telephones, television, and computers, while our populations have not grown in healthy skepticism.

4.2 Ignorance and informational conformity
In any country governed by a rigid set of values and enforced by punitive power one might observe other forms of mass hysteria. In the US during the cold war we experienced a time known as the McCarthyite period, a time of mass hysteria and conformity. Conformity to the norms of the day allowed for the witch hunting which followed and could only have been brought about in an atmosphere of manufactured crisis and political ignorance. Thousands of people were accused of unorthodox political beliefs and behaviors. Anyone who had opinions that were in favor of social justice was smeared a communists, this was particularly true of people like Martin Luther King who led the struggle for civil rights. Many thousands lost their jobs, and writers and performers were black listed in Hollywood. An atmosphere of suspicion and modern day witch hunting dominated the political and cultural life of the U.S.

This mass hysteria was in many ways similar to that observed in other situations of crisis. We have taken note of the violent responses to the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published initially in Denmark in 2006. The sectarian genocide in the Middle East and indeed other parts of the world partake of similar ignorance and manipulated hysteria. In any society where large numbers of people are ignorant of fundamental information about history, geography, and political knowledge, there exists the possibility of conformity to informational norms produced by mass hysteria. Any crisis can be misused to produce genocidal behavior toward political, religious, and ethnic minorities.

4.3 What conditions produce informational conformity?
From the preceding examples we can observe some conditions that are likely to facilitate informational conformity. The more uncertain one is in a given situation, the more he/she will look to others for correct responses (Allen, 1965; Baron, Albright, & Malloy, 1995). The young soldiers at My Lai and the child soldiers in the Army of the Lord found themselves in crisis situations and both perpetrated terrible atrocities in their respective zones of combat. In Sierra Leone, Africa, child soldiers would routinely cut off arms and legs of totally innocent civilians. How could children do that? Do you think it is in the nature of these children to do that? Or did they have adults who demanded and modeled that behavior in a situation of crisis where the child soldiers’ life was in danger?

Ambiguous situations in crisis are ideal for creating informational conformity, as the participants have no information other than that which is provided by the handlers. In Srebrenica (Bosnia), 1995, thousands of young Muslim men were summarily executed by their Serbian enemies in one of the significant genocidal acts of the war. The perpetrators were in civilian life ordinary people who would not normally commit aggression. In crisis situations people do not have time to sufficiently reflect on the morality of behavior and too often look to others to define what is proper behavior.

In general, people who have status, expertness and power are more likely to be role models for others. When at an accident we look to emergency experts to guide us, or at least those among the spectators who seem to know something about first aid and emergency procedures (Allison, 1992; Cialdini & Trost, 1998). Sadly too often so-called experts have turned out to be misleaders, and have led us down the garden path to disasters. In any decision there is so much that is unknowable, and dogmatic reactions seldom serve any group of people. Despite the insanity of mutually assured destruction we are still on the edge of nuclear catastrophes. What if the experts are not right and someone really thinks that an advantage may be gained by a preemptive strike. The losers in all wars have time to regret that they followed leaders who were supposed to know how to make good decisions, but in the end brought ruin.

In informational conformity we go along with demands or behaviors because we want in some way to be right. The more we are connected to the group providing the information the more likely we are to trust and to follow the directives of the leaders. If we trust our religious leaders and prize our membership in a religious society we may accept information that in other circumstances would seem absurd. We have already noted the cults that committed suicide, and each country will have similar examples of conformity. In informational conformity we usually accept the influence extended and change not only our behavior, but also our minds (Griffin & Buehler, 1993). Informational conformity is therefore a rational process where we conform in order to behave in ways that reflect the group’s views of a situation.

5. Normative influence: The Asch studies on group pressure
In the Sherif auto kinetic experiment the participants were faced with a very ambiguous situation. They found themselves in a completely darkened room with a fixed light that appeared to move. In this situation it is then only natural to look to others, and as we saw eventually the participants came up with a group estimate or norm. What would people do in another experiment where the stimuli were not ambiguous? An attempt to create an unambiguous situation to study conformity was carried out by Asch (1951, 1956, 1957).

In his studies participants gathered by arrangement in the psychological laboratory and were told that they were participating in a study on perception. It was a relatively simple task. They had to choose from a card with three lines of differing lengths the one which corresponded to a line on a second card. Perceptually the experiment contained no ambiguity, and participants nearly always made the correct choice as individuals. However, in the experiment with seven participants, all unknown to the actual subject, six were confederates of the experimenter. After the first two trials passed where everyone made the correct choice, on the third trial all six confederates, one after another made an incorrect choice. It was always arranged that the subject would be last to make a selection after listening to the unanimous incorrect choices.

After this first very incongruent experience the confederates and participant went through 11 more trials with the experimental collaborators each time calling out an obviously incorrect choice. There was no ambiguity here. The line on the comparison card clearly matched one of the lines on the card with three lines. What would you do, would you start to think that something was wrong with your eyes, or would you report what you actually saw? In this classical experiment participants conformed on some of the trials about 75 percent of the time, and overall about 37 percent of the critical trials. It is generally believed that Asch studied normative conformity in his experiment, based on the participants’ desire to avoid disapproval and being liked. Normative conformity also includes the desire to avoid harsher sanctions such as being ostracized from the group.

This level of conformity thinking surprised Asch since it raised questions about our education and national values. Why would people choose a line that was obviously not the correct response? Crutchfield (1955) automated the experiment in order to avoid problems of consistency among experimental confederates and obtained equally astounding rates of conformity, about 46 percent among military officers tested. Despite being in leadership where accuracy is of great importance a significant minority yielded to a unanimous majority. In this experiment, where there was no direct contact between participants and confederates, it is difficult to imagine any approval or sanctions arising from participating in the experiment. The results would suggest that we are socialized to behave in conformist ways.

What is startling about these responses is that there was nothing at stake in these experiments for the participants. There were no rewards for going along. How do these high rates of conformity square with the predominant notion of rugged individualism in U.S. society? In the Asch experiment we have a situation where people yield even when their eyes tell them otherwise. If people yield with such minimal pressure, what would happen when significant demands are made, and the pressure is significant?

6. We can resist conformity
At times, of course the majority is right, and we would be right to go along. However, all too often we go along with the social norm because we are mindless, do not understand the issue, or are under great pressure to conform. It behooves us to remember that history is filled with examples of those who resisted conformity even at great cost. Those who refused to go along with the norms of corrupt social systems started the liberation struggles in many oppressed countries. This would be true of the war of independence in the United States from Great Britain, as well as of the struggle for independence in Vietnam from the US, and in Norway from Sweden, and in similar struggles in many other countries.

We should remember that even in the midst of genocide there are those who refuse to go along. At My Lai not all participated in the atrocity. Some simply refused to follow orders, one soldier shot himself in the foot in order to be evacuated away from the massacre, one helicopter pilot seeing what was happening sat down his copter and picked up 15 children and ferried these to safety. Remember in the “War of The World” radio play there were those who did not panic, who sought to behave in rational ways and sought information to disconfirm what they had heard.

We can also resist by adopting an attitude of skepticism that lies at the base of all scientific and social progress. Remember that once the vast majority of people and scientists believed the Earth was flat. It cost a great deal to resist that dogma and social norm, but it was resisted and eventually we moved away from parochialism toward a view of the universe that is still evolving. We can resist by asking questions. We should all remember that conformity affects the very reality of the world (Bless, Strack, & Walther, 2001;Hoffman, Granberg, See, & Loftus, 2001).

7. We want to be liked: normative conformity
Some years ago there were a number of fatalities on the ferries going from Norway to Denmark as young people engaged in a dangerous game of hanging with their finger tips from the ferry railings. Why would anyone engage in such suicidal behavior? We were also told that in Brazil approximately 150 teens died from a similar game surfing the roof of electric trains, and that hundreds more were injured. It raises the obvious question as to why these teens continue to conform to peer pressure under conditions that cause great harm or even death? These behaviors are extreme examples of normative conformity, behaviors carried out for reasons of social acceptance. We often conform to group rules or what we call social norms, by following the lead of others in our effort to find acceptance and respect (Miller & Prentice, 1996).

To be deviant in these extreme conditions is to be rejected by other group members (Kruglanski & Webster, 1991; Levine, 1989; 1999). Rejection by peers can for some have very tragic consequences. In Japan students subjected to group rejection are known to have committed suicide (Jordan, 1996). We are a social species, and we therefore need to be liked. We will often comply with norms even if we disagree with the behavior. What we do in front of others, however, may be different than our private opinions. Research has shown that we will conform in public while maintaining our private opinions (Levine, 1999). The desire for social approval is called normative influence, we want to be accepted and not rejected, the common human experience (Janes & Olson, 2000). At times we just conform outwardly in order to get along. The boss at work may express political opinions with which we disagree, but we pretend to agree in order to keep our jobs or perhaps we see a promotion in the future. We may manifest our agreement in various ways while we think he is a fool for thinking the way he does.

For those who doubt the power of social rejection studies have shown that being deprived of human contact is experienced as very traumatic (Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Curtiss, 1977). Perhaps that is why prisoners kept in isolation consider this the worst form of punishment.
Most people want to be liked by their peers, family, and others. We often seek their approval, and are motivated to conform (Larsen, Martin, Ettinger, & Nelson, 1976). Perhaps much of the behavior we see as aggressive or even genocidal is motivated by a desire for approval and to avoid rejection by significant others. Among all living organisms humans have the longest dependency period, and learn early to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. In other words, in a nonverbal way we early on learn the norms of the group. If the group has hostile norms like the Ku Klux Klan in the US, or gangs in the inner cities of Europe, members will display such behavior. There are even some gangs that require the killing of an innocent human being in order to become a member, it is called “making your bones”, and probably originated with gangs that ran various criminal enterprises.
However, if we behave long in a certain way our behavior may eventually change our opinions. As already discussed in chapter 5 cognitive dissonance theory suggests that we need to experience a state of consistency between behaviors and beliefs; i.e., our attitudes, or we will feel uncomfortable. Perhaps the employee after outwardly supporting the opinions of the boss may start a process of reconsidering his initial views. In this process the individual tries to empathize with the boss’s perspective, and develops a new interpretation more in line with the conforming behavior. This post-conformity change in beliefs is supported in research (e.g. Buehler & Griffin, 1994). We have seen that even when there is little risk people will still conform in order to be liked. In the Asch experiment there was little informational conformity involved since it is not an ambiguous task. The choice was obvious, and still many of the participants went along with the unanimous majority (Janes & Olson, 2000; Kruglanski & Webster, 1991; Schachter, 1951).

8. Factors that support conformity
Research has demonstrated that some situations are more likely than others to create conformity. Among these are group size, unanimity of group opinion, and the level of commitment to the group (Cialdini & Trost, 1998). The size of the group can only be considered a minimal effect. Experiments show some group size effect up until the group reaches a size of four. Group size after four has little effect where this has been tested (Asch, 1955).

8.1 Unanimity of group opinion
The initial studies were carried out with unanimous group opinion favoring the wrong choice. As we have seen that produces powerful conformity effects. What would happen if the group did not express unanimous opinions? Of course it takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to friends as well as enemies, to be a minority of one. In the Asch experiments the confederates were unknown and should logically have produced little pressure. However, research shows that if the subject in the Asch paradigm has just one ally who refuses to go along with the majority opinion, the conformity rate dropped to 5 percent. Just one ally weakens the normative influence in the Asch paradigm and participants may start to think “there is obviously one more sane person in the group” (Morris & Miller, 1975).

This result should give us all pause for thought. If just one person can produce resistance to conformity pressures should we not safeguard free speech as being essential to accurate decision making? Should we not do all that is possible to retain a “devils advocate” whose role is to consistently take the opposite on all questions or issues before the group? Only in this way can we protect free thought so essential to any progress whether scientific or cultural. The lone dissenter decreases the confidence of the participants in the majority. As the story goes “perhaps the emperor really does not have any clothes on” despite pretensions. The dissent indicates that there is room for some skepticism, that the issue is not closed but needs further evaluation, and hence encourages less reliance on the correctness of the majority opinion. This will work, of course, primarily when the conforming individuals already have private doubts about the majority opinion, but have been afraid to utter these in public. We can only guess, but governments that do not rely on true consensus probably have more to fear from dissenters, and therefore seek to suppress such dissent as we saw in e.g. in Hitler’s Germany, in Stalin´s Soviet Union, in the Burma of the junta, and everywhere where brutality is the norm in suppressing dissenting opinion.

8.2 Is the group important?
Some groups to which we belong are not important to our lives or happiness. Perhaps the university psychology class is of this type. Sure you want to get along with teachers and fellow students, but in a short time you will be into other things in your life. Perhaps you belong to a group that plays some type of game, and while you enjoy the interaction the group is not crucial to your self-esteem or your worldview. Most people have the experience of membership in groups that are desirable for some reason, but you would not be crushed if you no longer associated with the group or its members.
On the other hand there are groups that are central to our lives and sense of well-being. Such groups often include the family, but may also include groups based on religious or political philosophy. In these groups you find expression for what you consider being the meaning of life, and perhaps prescriptions for how to have a happy life, in some cases eternal life. These groups are obviously of great meaning to the individual, and therefore elicit greater commitment and willingness to sacrifice for the welfare of the group. The bond between the group and its members affects the level of conformity. The stronger the bond the more likely the individual will conform to group opinions and norms.

Certain positive forces keep group commitment at high levels. These include liking other group members, feeling that important goals are being reached, and the positive gains obtained by group membership. These positive forces lead also to higher levels of conformity. There are also negative forces that keep the person involved in the group and they have similar conformity effects. These include having few other alternatives. For example, you are a middle-aged man and have not trained for any work except that which you are now performing. At the same time your investment in the company is very large, perhaps you hope to eventually obtain a generous retirement. These conditions are equally likely to produce more commitment and conformity.

8.3 Do we differ in our need to get along?
People are different. There have always been individuals in any society who had the courage to be different, and thereby embolden others. Some people simply like to be different, to stand out from the crowd in a distinctive way. The willingness to be different is called desire for individuation, and has been demonstrated in a number of studies (Maslach, Stapp, & Santee, 1985; Whitney, Sagrestano, & Maslach, 1994). People who are willing to stand apart from the majority help others to resist conformity pressures by showing that there might be different opinions than those summarized in the group norm. They also serve as a source of allies and confederates for those who want to resist.

8.4 Low self-esteem and conformity
In addition to approval seeking other personality variables may play a role in conformity as well. From our personal experiences we probably know people who seem more conformist than others. People with low self-esteem may not have the personal confidence necessary to resist group pressures. One reason may be that the low self-esteem person fears rejection to a greater extent and is therefore more likely to conform (Asch, 1951). In later research Crutchfield (1955) found support for this contention. In related studies those who perceived themselves as having a need for social approval were also more likely to display normative conformity (Snyder & Ickes, 1985). Personality plays a role, but can be overridden by the more powerful influence of the situation. People may appear inconsistent in conformity primarily because the demands of the situation differ. Behavior is a consequence of both personality and the situation (McGuire, 1968). Of the two the situation tends to be more powerful (Larsen, Coleman, Forbes, & Johnson, 1972).

9. Gender differences
In most societies males and females are socialized in different ways. Socialization is related to the different social roles played by the two genders, although these roles are being redefined in modern society. Still there are both biological as well as social differences between boys and girls. It should therefore not be surprising that social psychologists have shown an interest in gender differences. Traditionally it is thought that females are socialized to value relationships and interdependence more than males. Since social relationships are seen as somewhat more important to females, we might expect a greater desire in them to get along and to conform (Eagly, 1987). Given these sex role differences, conformity behavior is in the expected direction. In the meta-analysis of 145 studies men were less prone to accept influence, but the overall difference was small (Eagly & Carli, 1981). The critical variable for conformity was found in situations that produced direct group pressures. When an audience can directly observe behavior, females conform more. Do women conform because they are more conforming by nature or do they conform because of political correctness? Despite political correctness the core of conformity is responding to group pressure. What one’s private opinion is might not have many consequences for the person or society, what matters is what we do in the social setting. Responding to direct pressure is really the critical variable in conformity, and where that occurs, for example in the Asch type study, females conform at somewhat higher rates (Becker, 1986; Eagly, 1987).
With growing emphasis on women emancipation we might expect the difference to reduce. But will they go away? It is interesting that the genders conform more when the issue is gender related. Thus females conform more on what is commonly considered male issues such as geography or mathematics, whereas males conform more on female issues where women are supposedly the experts like child raising (Sistrunk & McDavid, 1971).

10. The influence of culture
Some cultures prize individuality, yet other cultures put value on the welfare of family and society. Nowadays in most western societies a person lists his given name first and his family name second, particularly in informal social settings. In East Asian countries the reverse is true, people list family name first as the primary identification, then the individual name. Perhaps this is an illustration of the differences between what might be called collectivistic and individualistic cultures. Milgram (1961) replicated an adaptation of the Asch experiment in Norway and France and found significant differences between the countries with the Norwegians conforming more than the French. He explained these differences by concluding that Norwegian society is a highly cohesive, whereas the French were less cohesive and more individualistic.

Many other cross-cultural studies have been completed on normative conformity utilizing the Asch paradigm. Whittaker & Meade (1967) found similar levels of conformity in Lebanon, Hong Kong, and Brazil to that among American respondents, whereas respondents from Bantu tribe in Zimbabwe conformed to a higher degree. It seems that culture matters. The composition of the group is however also important. If the group is largely anonymous as in the Asch experiment, then otherwise more conformist cultures may produce lower levels of conformity (Frager, 1970; Williams & Sogon, 1984). Similar results emphasizing the importance of the nature of the group were also found in Britain and Germany (Abrams, Wetherell, Cochrane, Hogg, & Turner, 1990). Conformity to strangers is less powerful than to a well-established and valued group (Moghaddam, Taylor, & Wright, 1993).

Overall conclusions from a meta-analysis of some 133 studies of varying cultures show that collectivistic cultures produce more conformity than those with more individualistic socialization (Bond & Smith, 1996). Perhaps one reason is that conformity is not seen in the same light or viewed the same way in the two types of cultures. In the western world conformity is a negatively laden term indicating personal weakness. In other cultures, however, sensitivity toward others is valued as part of the culture of courtesy (Smith & Bond, 1999). In general collectivistic cultures value normative conformity as a means of creating social harmony and supportive relationships (Guisinger & Blatt, 1994; Markus, Kitayama, & Heiman, 1996).
Perhaps there are also deeper values related to human survival. In some of the more collectivist cultures people share less space, and social harmony is therefore of greater importance. In others conformity may be related to physical survival. Developing societies that rely on hunting or fishing may value independence more than societies that are agricultural. Hunting and fishing require traits of assertiveness and independence whereas agricultural societies value conformity. In developing societies conformity and cooperation are essential where survival depends on interdependence and close living situations.

In modern Netherlands the lack of space produces opposite effects through the application of a norm of tolerance for differences. Tolerance overcomes the lack of space. In Norway there is lots of space but also a strong influence of traditional values. Obviously the history and development of society makes a difference in the relationship of values to conformity.

11. Transhistorical changes in normative conformity
Today many textbooks indicate that rates of conformity are changing in the United States. They cite studies from 25 to 40 years after the original Asch experiments which show decreasing rates. (Bond & Smith, 1996; Lalancette & Standing, 1990; Nicholson, Cole, & Rocklin, 1985; Perrin & Spencer, 1991). However, these apparent changes may reflect different conformity processes not less conforming. During this time we saw protection of human subjects as a hot issue that likely produced more skepticism and resistance by students participating in psychological experiments. Furthermore, a new type of conformity called “political correctness” replaced the old incentive of dependence on authority figures. Nevertheless, the aforementioned results at least have the merit of calling to attention that changes do occur over time in the history of social psychology.

Often our research is presented as if representing the immutable truth established with transhistorical validity. In fact, Larsen and his co-workers have shown a remarkable correspondence between conformity in the Asch experiment and conformity in society (Larsen, 1974d; Larsen, Triplet, Brant, & Langenberg, 1979; Larsen, 1982; and Larsen, 1990). Initially Asch showed that conformity was high in both society and the laboratory during the 1950s, a time dominated socially by the conformity pressures of McCarthyism. Later during the war on Vietnam students began to question authority, and we saw a counter conformity movement expressed by free speech and anti-war student organizations. During this period of the 1960s we also saw conformity rates decrease in the laboratory. However, in the 1980s there was little left of the ideals that motivated young people in the preceding period. During this period students were primarily concerned about grades and careers. This social apathy corresponded to increases in conformity in the Asch experiment. The Larsen et al. experiments were valuable not only for pointing out the rates of conformity, but also for indicating that experimental behavior is correlated with the happenings in the larger society and reflect to some degree that society. Therefore the social psychologist’s work is never done, we can never assume that our research has validity, at least as far as rates are concerned, except for the generation in which the research was completed.

12. The influence of conformity in our daily life
The importance of research on conformity is established by how the findings translate to real life. One does not have to be an astute observer to see conformity pressures everywhere. Everyone rising for the national anthem is but one of many occasions when pressure to conform is acute. The elaborate rituals of courtesy that we observe in many cultures, including bowing or hand gestures, are also examples of conformity, but so deeply ingrained in the socialization process that few give them any thought. Changing fashions and fads is but another way to show that most people go along with the crowd. In fact one way to show individuation is to not wear the common garb of society. Most people want to be liked and accepted, want to be seen as “cool”, and therefore have a keen interest in what peers are wearing.

In the late 1960s when so many changes were occurring in society, we saw corresponding changes in social garb. We can remember this as a time of movements against the war, but also a time for the liberation of defined minorities, particularly Blacks, and others who were discriminated against, like women. Did these movements make women less interested in fashion? We think the evidence shows the opposite, only now the fashions reflected the new times with women wearing what was formerly thought to be men’s clothing, and in the spirit of the times the hemlines rose to the level of mini skirts.
Young women were sometimes faced with conflicting norms, the norms of society and religious bodies that viewed the length of skirts as a moral issue, and peer groups that encouraged conformity toward the short apparel. This conflict was in the U.S. especially present in college students who attended religious universities. There were two conflicting norms that young women were trying to address at these universities: pressures from the peer group and from the religious body who sponsored the university. How could the issue of hem length be resolved? Do you think by a compromise between the societal norm and the peer group norm? That is exactly what researchers found (Hardy & Larsen, 1971). Women’s skirts at a religious university were shorter than the ideal announced by the university, but longer that the mini skirts then in fashion. It seemed a rational situation which can be applied elsewhere, the individual in the presence of conflicting norms will seek a compromise between the two prescriptions which is not totally satisfactory to meeting either norm, but allows for feelings of belonging to the competing reference groups. How do Muslim women handle conflicting dress codes?

12.1 The changing ideal body images
All who have visited other countries are aware that not all cultures hold the same view of the ideal human form, nor what constitutes ideal female proportions. Many societies consider plumpness as very attractive as it connotes fertility, prosperity and health. In our culture however, extreme thinness has been promoted for a long time as ideal womanhood (Anderson, Crawford, Nadeau, & Lindberg, 1999; Fouts & Burggraf, 1999; Jackson, 1992; Thompson & Heinberg, 1999). Anderson and her colleagues studied varying female ideals across cultures. They thought that the ideal form would depend on the presence or absence of food. In those societies where food was scarce plumpness would be considered attractive and that was exactly what they found. Only in societies similar to the U.S. where food supplies are plentiful are skinny women considered attractive.

At the same time what is considered the ideal female form has also changed within our society. For example Silverstein, Perdue, Peterson & Kelly (1986) examined the photos of models in two prominent women’s magazines, Vogue and Ladies Home Journal from 1901 to 1986. Using new techniques they were able to measure women’s busts and waists, thus creating a ratio between these two measurements. The results showed dramatic changes over time. At the beginning of the 20th century attractive women were voluptuous, but by the 1920s thin and flat chested women were considered most attractive. In the 1940s the social norm for female attractiveness again returned to curvaceous women like Marilyn Monroe. However, since the 1960s extreme thinness has been the norm to the great detriment of women’s mental and physical health (Barber, 1998; Wiseman, Gray, Mosmann, & Ahrens, 1992).

Similar findings have been demonstrated for the appeal of thinness in Japanese culture (Mukai, Kambara, & Sasaki, 1998). There are obviously individual differences in how women respond to these social norms. Those who have high needs for approval are more likely to conform in different arenas (Larsen, Martin, Ettinger & Nelson, 1976). In Japan need for approval also predicted eating disorders as Japanese women responded to the demands of the social norm for thinness.

We all learn what is the ideal form, whether male or female via informational influences from the media, Internet, advertisements in magazines, model shows on television. In response to these demands women have joined health clubs in what is for many is a lifelong quest to shed weight. While we can applaud the health giving effects of exercise we must also be aware that when cultural standards are approaching absurdness they can only be met through efforts that may be very damaging to women’s health. The routine of losing and then regaining weight is very damaging to the person’s self-esteem. There are also direct impacts on physical health (Thompson, 2004; Levine & Smolak, 1996; Cohn & Adler, 1992).

12.2 Eating disorders and normative conformity
It should come as no surprise that women take drastic measures to achieve a more acceptable body image. In recent years we have seen many negative outcomes of thinness as a social norm reflected in anorexia nervosa, and bulimia (Gimlin, 1994; Sands & Wardle, 2003; Ellin, 2000). The norm of thinness is reaching even very young girls who try to stay thin by dieting, self-imposed vomiting and the use of laxatives. The pressure to conform is primarily responsible for bulimia and anorexia. In anorexia the victim often sees herself as heavy even when she has reached a stage of morbid thinness. In bulimia there is often a pattern of binge eating followed by purging through various means. Crandall (1988) found that bulimia was primarily a disease initiated by the women’s desire to conform to the eating patterns of their friends. Again both informational conformity through various media and normative conformity in seeking the approval of peers, play important roles. In the Ellin (2000) study almost one third of 12 and 13-year-old girls were actively trying to shed weight by means of dieting and purging. Society must have built in devastating low self-esteem to encourage such drastic body modification in what are after all children.

12.3 Do men escape self-critical body images?
For men too we see similar unhealthy conformity processes at work. For example, in examining the changes that have occurred in boy’s fantasy toys one can see a pronounced move toward more muscularity. The G.I. Joe, a militarist toy depicting a warrior type male figure has changed from its inception in 1964. Initially G.I. Joe had normal male proportions, but it changed gradually over time to the latest incarnation of absurd muscularity called G.I. Joe extreme (Pope, Olivardia, Gruber, & Borowiecki, 1999). At the same time the weapons associated with the figure have also taken on increased lethal proportions as expressions of aggression and hostility. Little boys are getting early training in militarist socialization.

Have boys and men also come under corresponding pressures to conform to an ideal body image through informational and normative conformity? There is much that points in that direction (Morry & Staska, 2001). In research by Pope, Gruber, Mangweth, Bureau, Jouvent, & Hudson (2000) men were asked in United States, France, and Austria to indicate their preference for an ideal muscular male body. The participants believed that the ideal body was on the average 28 pounds heavier than their own bodies. As part of the liberalizations that occurred in connection with the women’s liberation movement, men also have been objectified as sex objects in female magazines. Over the years a larger proportion of males are shown in a state of undress, with 35 percent of male models being in various states of undress (Pope, Phillips, & Olivardia, 2000). Although men think women prefer more muscular bodies, when asked women prefer more normal male proportions. Clearly men are submitting to the propaganda of informational conformity.

12.4 Normative conformity to promote health?
A major problem in western societies is binge drinking among high school (Netherlands) and college age (U.S.) students. Those who participate often use normative influences to justify their behavior. They engage in binge drinking they contend, because it is common among their peers. In actual fact most students overestimate the amount of drinking among peers, and the true norm is much lower than commonly believed. Since students often misperceive the true frequency for drinking, some universities in the U.S. are using informational and normative conformity to encourage more rational behavior. We know that those who promote drinking use attractive peer groups to encourage consumption in their advertisements. Could the same approach be used to decrease drinking? For example what would happen if universities announced in the student paper, “most university students have four or fewer drinks when they party”. Would that help change the norm toward more responsible drinking? What if appeals about safe sex practices included information that indicated that most of their peers do so or refrain from sex? These approaches have been used at a number of universities (Campo, Brossard, Frazer, Marchell, Lewis, & Talbot, 2003; Perkins, 2004). Normative influence however, is most likely to have effect if the pressure comes from the student’s smaller reference group. Some of these campaigns may also have a downside. For example, heavy drinkers might reduce their binging, but those who never or rarely drink may be influenced to increase their consumption.

12.5 Resisting pressures to conform
People do not always give in to social pressure. Given the right conditions people will act opposite to the demands of conformity. This is called reactance theory. When people feel their freedom of action threatened or their ability to behave as they want, they may react by doing the proscribed behavior (Brehm, 1956). This so-called boomerang effect has been demonstrated in some experiments (Brehm & Brehm, 1981). During prohibition many drank heavily. When parents prohibited short skirts girls found ways to make them shorter. A clear example of reactance is the terrible “two’s”, when a small child first asserts his independence and when the word “no” comes into frequent use. Sometimes parents will elicit the desired behavior by asking for the opposite, “no, you can not have the green beans with your dinner”. If we have an ally as we saw in the Asch experiments we may at times be able to withstand social pressures. Do these strategies work in all situations? We shall take up this theme when we discus the experiments on obedience and situational conformity.

12.6 With a minority we can resist informative and normative influence
The silent majority of the world has been endured in quiet desperation our destructive history. It has always been the strong and principled minority that has produced progress and achievements. In the face of impossible odds, and against the mores, customs, and norms of society, the minority has progressively changed the world. Individuals and minorities have created all the innovations that have produced material and social culture. In the Middle Ages it was against scientific, and especially religious norms, to believe the Earth was anything but flat. The cosmos was viewed from the Earth, and all stars and planets rotated around our little space ship. It took much courage and fidelity to truth to change these views to those that have allowed us to explore the planets and develop modern physical science. The development of secular societies based on reason has likewise been the consequence of great human struggles against superstitions, and those who would enforce dogma on the human family. Indeed the minority cannot only resist, but can change the opinions of the majority over time (DeDreu & DeVries, 2001).

We have already seen in the Asch paradigm that having even one confederate reduces conformity significantly. Later the work of Moscovici (1985) showed how a minority of confederates could change the opinions of the majority in a perceptual, experiment where participants were asked to rate the color of slides. When there were no confederates all the participants rated the blue slides as blue. However, when two confederates consistently rated these same slides as green, about a third of the participants reported at least one green slide, and 8 percent rated all the “blue” slides as green (Moscovici, Lage, Naffrechoux, 1969). The minority, it would appear, had a significant effect on the majority who were the true subjects.

As already mentioned in chapter 6 it matters how opinions are presented. The minority must have the style that represents conviction being both forceful and consistent (Wood, Lundgren, Quellette, Buscame, & Blackstone, 1994). If they display principled opposition they are more likely to be seen as competent as well as honest (Bassili & Provencal, 1988). This is also the process by which a minority eventually turns into a new majority as they convince others of the correctness of their position. Other factors that influence the majority are the logical soundness of minority arguments, and when changing your mind is not of great consequence for the majority (Clark, 2001; Mackie & Hunter, 1999; Trost, Maas, & Kenrick, 1992).
Generally minorities are also more successful in persuasion when there are ties that bind the minority and majority. In other words those who are perceived as in-group minorities will usually have more influence on the majority than those minorities who are seen as belonging to a different category or an unrelated out-group. Hence, a Bulgarian will be more successful in changing the opinions of other Bulgarians as compared to the effectiveness of a person from Turkey or Greece (Volpato, Maass, Mucchi-Fiana, & Vitti, 1990).

Social psychology is debating whether the process of influence is similar for majorities and minorities. The dual-process hypothesis suggests that cognition is very different for both groups. The minority influence leads majority group members to think seriously about the issue, leading to changed attitudes. On the other hand the majority influence is seen as more conformist leading perhaps to changes in behavior, but not in privately held attitudes (Forgas & Williams, 2001). The benefits of minority influence are especially useful on tasks which require creative and novel thinking, where people have to think “out of the box”, where there is a need for many perspectives (Nemeth, Mosier, & Chiles, 1992). There are scholars with a different view. They think that both minority and majority influence can be expressed in attitude change as well as public compliance (David & Turner, 2001) (see also discussion of how to prevent group think in chapter 6). However, the usefulness of minorities should indicate that all social units should treasure opposition and value minorities as a means of correcting errors and challenging “all knowable” majorities. On the other hand majorities typically elicit more conformity as they have the means of enforcing compliance, but that does not necessarily change private opinions. Minorities may influence fewer people, but the change is more significant and lasting (Maass & Clark, 1983).

There are those who would argue that minority influence is primarily of the informational type. Outside the Asch paradigm or similar experiments are people in the majority concerned about minority opinion? However, by providing contrary information in a consistent and courageous way the minority may eventually become the new majority. The silent majority complies to prevailing norms, but may be provoked to reconsider their beliefs by a minority with principle and daring (Moscovici, 1985; Nemeth, 1986; Wood, Lungren, Quelleette, Busceme, & Blackstone, 1994).

13. Compliance: explicit requests to conform
We have seen conformity as the mimicking of the behavior of others, or as a consequence of the pressure of unanimous majorities. We have observed the influence of both informational and normative conformity as operating together in many behaviors. In compliance people are, however, responding to an explicit request from another person with some degree of power. When complying we respond not from desire, feelings, beliefs or attitudes, but because of our relationship to the person making the request. In employment the boss may make a request for you to work overtime. You really have other plans, but since the boss can both reward you and punish you, you would probably go along. There are some cases where people go along with a request for no good reasons as perhaps agreeing is just a part of that person’s personality (Langer, Blank, & Chanowitz, 1978). Through socialization we have learned to go along with any request, even if it is totally mindless. In the above study the confederate of the experimenter asked people to be allowed to go to the front of a waiting line at a photocopy machine because “I have to make copies”. Surprisingly a number of people yield their place in the waiting line for such a mindless reason. Mindless because the people waiting also “just had to make copies”.

13.1 Compliance and power
Often compliance is in response to power. French & Raven (1959) and Raven (1992) outlined six bases of power that included both coercive and rewarding power to which we referred to above. Coercion can range from very severe physical force to milder signs of disapproval that in turn may be backed up with actions in the future. If you refuse to work overtime the boss may respond with something like “those who do not will not have a future with the company”. You might rightly think that you will be fired at the pleasure of the company. If you do work overtime, in particular if you do so without overtime pay (the standard in the western world is now 1 1/2 times normal pay for working over 7.6 hours in a 38 hour week), you will be seen as a “company man” who identifies with the company and its goals. Privately you may curse the boss, but publicly you go along because of his power.
French & Raven also referred to other forms of power. The boss may also be seen to have legitimate power, i.e., his position gives him the right to make the request. The police also have legitimate power. Society that has given the police its power, generally accepts their right to enforce the laws of the land.

In case there might be confusion about the legitimacy of the person making the request we also dress these authorities in sanctioned uniforms, like uniforms for police and armed forces, the white coat of a physician, and the black robes of a judge. Those who dress appropriately are more likely to obtain compliance than those who do not (Sedikides & Jackson, 1990). Legitimate power is related to the social consensus we have regarding social roles like the boss, police officer, teacher, and parent. We accept that they have a legitimate right to make requests and ask for compliance.
We are also more likely to comply if the person making the request is perceived as having some form of expertise. We comply with teachers because they should know more than we do. We defer to scientists who have spent many years in hard labor trying to understand their field of study. We are also likely to follow the advise of doctors as their expertise is critical to our health. Sometimes having information may be persuasive. Today we are in a heat wave of more than 34 degrees Celsius. We can give this information to a friend who plans to visit, and he may chose to delay his visit, or alternatively pack very light summer clothes. Information can be a source of social influence. Furthermore, we are also more likely to listen to those with whom we identify (Orina, Wood, & Simpson, 2001). If we like the teacher and want to develop a closer relationship we are more likely to listen to lectures and instructions (Richmond & McCroskey, 1992). If we like our spouse and want to maintain a good relationship we may be more likely to agree with his or her political and religious beliefs.

Finally, to some degree compliance is affected by the mood of the individual (Forgas, 2001). In general people are more likely to comply when they are happy. You can imagine that yourself. If you are very happy, perhaps in love, you are more likely to agree to any request. You may be so happy you will agree to even absurd demands like carrying your spouse on your back if requested. Think of times when you were happy, did those times lead to more willingness to go along with requests from family or friends? For those who want to influence another person it would help to get the targeted person in a good mood. Children and spouses practice that by waiting with requests until the “right time”. We examine the mood of the boss, “is this the right time to ask for a raise, is he/she in the right mood”?

13.2 Getting compliance through manipulation
Sales people have learned that certain techniques are more likely to result in sales, charity workers have learned the same techniques in order to obtain donations. One study by Freedman & Fraser (1966) demonstrated the “foot in the door” technique that we also discussed briefly in chapter 5. In this approach one increases compliance by making an initial small request, and once compliance is secured, we come back with a larger request. If we agree to do something not terribly challenging, we are more likely to comply with the larger request that follows. If you agree to sign a petition in favor of some political action you may be more likely to also make a monetary contribution. Some think that in responding to the initial request we are somehow changing our self-image (Burger, 1999). For example, in signing the petition we have begun to perceive ourselves to be somewhat politically active. Others believe that we have in western cultures a strong motivation to appear consistent (Guadagno, Asher, Demaine, & Cialdini, 2001). If we sign the petition it would be consistent to follow up with other political activities. Finally some researchers (Gorassini & Olson, 1995) believe that we change our perception of the situation that frames the request. If we sign the petition we have already made one significant step. To volunteer for other activities are not different from this request, it belongs to the same situation.

The “door in the face” manipulation involves asking for a very large effort, then when refused following that with a request that seems reasonable given the initial outrageous demand. One of us has recently been involved in the purchase of a vehicle. The car was marked with the manufactures “suggested retail price”, which in car sales in the US is meaningless. Only the naive or mentally challenged would pay this amount for a car. Car dealers then put a “sales price” on the car to indicate to you what a good deal you are getting, and you may even think it is reasonable. That price is of course from where the real bargaining proceeds. If you know the invoice price you can make a bid closer to the cost to the dealer, and if he still makes a profit he may agree.

Perhaps you are asked to volunteer for a minor service assignment in your community, which because it seems minor you agree to do. Later, you learn that much more time is required, but since you have agreed you continue to serve. Finally, sales people are often successful in making sales by presenting the product in the best possible light, and assuring the customer of what a great deal it is. When the customer hesitates the sales person will say “and that is not all” (Burger, 1986), and offers additional products at no additional cost. For example, the car sales person may say “if you buy the car we will in addition also pay the gas you consume the first year”. The above manipulations are all ways of altering the perceptions of people and thereby increase compliance.

When oil was discovered at the bottom of the North Sea in the late sixties the public debate was framed by Norwegian spin doctors as a choice between two alternatives: To take out huge quantities of oil per year or much fewer barrels. Framing the question as a choice between the two alternatives silenced a possible alternative debate: To take out no oil at all.

13.3 Convincing people to comply with morally bankrupt behavior
Too many times in human history the demand for compliance has not been the innocuous demands of parents, teachers or sales people, but demands which resulted in genocide and evil. Few people would be prepared to commit evil upon demand, but history shows that the ground can be prepared. At times the ground is so well prepared that entire nations may follow the demands for compliance to the total destruction of people and nations. We can observe that with the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s. They organized a special propaganda office led by Goebbels, a close and slavish follower of Hitler, to prepare the German people for the coming catastrophe. Hitler was of course aware of the power of propaganda as discussed in his book Mein Kampf (My Struggle). In his Nazi bible Hitler showed his disregard for truth and fairness, the objective of propaganda was always to serve the Nazi cause and the decisions of its leadership. The Nazi’s along with other totalitarian regimes were more interested in shaping perceptions, than in education. The objective is to manipulate behavior in the desired direction of the propaganda (Jowett & O’Donnell, 1999).

In propaganda the Nazi’s excelled in the manipulation of grievances and emotions (Zeman, 1995). Since they controlled all means of communication they had what really was a “captured audience”, who had few or no alternative sources of information. If you repeat something often enough people may eventually come to believe even the absurd. The Nazi propaganda machine advocated constantly two political ideas. One was the idea that there was not sufficient space within Germany proper for the Germans. As a great people they had a right to more space they were told, even if it inconveniently belonged to others. We can see similar ideas in Zionism in its attitudes toward the land of the Palestinians. The second idea of Nazi propaganda was racial purity, the great phobia that associating with, and especially marrying foreigners would dilute the bloodlines of the master race. The first idea led to World War II with an estimated 50 million dead. The second idea led to the holocaust in which tens of millions of Soviet war prisoners, those of other nationalities, and those deemed undesirable like Jews, communists, homosexuals and Gypsies, were physically destroyed.

That a people needed more space was not a new idea to Germany, nor were the ideas that led to the holocaust. They had a cultural foundation of perhaps centuries and were accepted by many Germans even before the Nazi’s came to power. Propaganda is more likely to persuade when there is such a base of preexisting beliefs. Eventually all enemies of the state, defined as both ideologically and racially misfits, were described as nothing more than pests which ought to be destroyed (Staub, 1989).

Of course what the Nazi’s did in propaganda is essentially no different than the propaganda of other nations in wartime. During World War II the U.S. propaganda against the Japanese contained similar dehumanizing descriptions as we saw in Nazi propaganda. During the war on Vietnam the US media described the Vietnamese in similar unflattering terms among which the mildest was calling the liberation organizations “terrorists”. All governments prefer little or no opposition to their cherished policies. The one difference is that when allowed freedom of expression not all media goes along with the official lines. In some societies there are limited opportunities for people, if educated, to read the truth between the lines.

13.4 How could people go along with evil: the studies on obedience
In the aftermath of World War II many social psychologists pondered over the collective holocaust that cost almost 50 million lives. How could people go along with that, why had there not been more resistance? In remembering genocidal obedience we wish to pay high tribute to those who sacrificed all in resisting the evil of their day. One line of thought was that it was exceptionally sadistic people who committed these cruel acts. Others thought that all people could potentially participate in similar crimes given the powerful forces that induced obedience.

Part of the reason for accepting genocidal behavior may be found in our socialization. Most children are told to obey their teachers and others who are recognized to have legitimate authority. Much of obedience in society is internalized, and we don’t give these behaviors much thought (Blass, 2000), we stop at red lights automatically for example. However, people likewise socialized to obey orders to hurt or even kill others? Were the participants in the genocides just brutal thugs who enjoyed hurting others? Or, is it possible (a more frightening thought) that they are just ordinary people who found themselves in situations that appeared legitimate, and which can, sadly enough be seen in any war?

Arendt (1965) was an observer at the trial of Adolf Eichman in Jerusalem. Eichman was the person directly responsible for the efficient transportation of the Jews and the killing machine that murdered millions of people. He was not an extraordinary person, but gave in every way the appearance of a normal and ordinary citizen (Miller, 1995). When he stood on the gallows he said “I did it for my country and flag”, in his mind he evidently still believed he had just done his duty and obeyed legal commands. Of course there are rules of war that essentially tells the soldier that he cannot use commands as an excuse to commit genocide, but finding themselves in a situation of war most people do not stand up against their superiors.

Is evil that is as great as genocide committed by sadists or by ordinary citizens following the instructions of leaders and government? This was the question that greatly interested Stanley Milgram (1963, 1974, 1976). Milgram having worked with Asch wondered whether people would conform at any price. After all the conformity expressed in the Asch experiment was rather innocuous, nobody was actually hurt. What would happen if an individual found himself in an experiment where a real conflict existed between personal norms of not hurting others, and demands from the experimenter to do just that? How would an ordinary person resolve that conflict? Would they hurt others in obeying the commands of the experimenter, or would they refuse to participate?
In his experiments the Milgram experimenter solicited people to participate in a teacher-learner experiment. The participant was told that the experiment investigated the effect of punishment on learning by utilizing a shock apparatus. Each time the learner made an error he was to be shocked with ever increasing levels of shock. In fact the teacher in the experiment was the true participant and the learner was a confederate of the experimenter. The real purpose of the experiment was to investigate people’s willingness to administer potentially dangerous shocks to an innocent victim. Although strapped into an electric chair, and responding with varying degrees of protest and hurt, the confederate did not actually receive any shock. He was trained to respond with varying degrees of protest to the constantly increasing levels of shock administered by the actual participant. The real experiment was to see, given the situation as presented, if the actual participant would continue to obey the experimenter. Would the real participant continue to shock at ever increasing levels and against the protests of the “learner”?

The shock apparatus varied from 15 to 450 volts, which was verbally described as ranging from “Slight shock” to “Danger severe shock”. In order to gain an appreciation of the pain administered, the “teacher” was given a small shock of 45 volts. Although at the lower end of the scale, this shock was still painful, and was meant to provide a frame of understanding and empathy for the “learner” as the experiment continued. The participant then watched what he thought was another participant being strapped into the electrical chair and the experiment began. The confederate began to make mistakes and each time he was to be shocked with 15 volts increments. The “learner” began to react with a painful cry at 75 volts, and with increasing protests thereafter. At 270 volts the protests of the “learner” became screams of agony. At 300 volts he refused to answer, was he still conscious? The experimenter had a set of prepared responses to all hesitation by the “learner”. They ranged from “please continue “ to “you have no choice, you must go on”. The protests reached a level where the “learner screamed “let me out of here…I have had enough. I won’t be in the experiment anymore” (Milgram, 1974, p. 56). When the participant hesitated he was just told “you must continue” or ”although the shocks are extremely painful, they do not cause permanent tissue damage”.
With direct reference to how dangerous the experiment is (450 volts, “danger: severe shock”), how many do you think would continue to shock at the highest levels? When a sample of psychology majors, psychiatrists, and other adults were asked they estimated that only 1 percent would continue to 450 volts. The psychiatrist sub sample estimated that only one in a thousand would shock to the highest level. In fact the average shock administered was 360 volts. A total of 62.5 percent continued to shock at the maximum 450 volts, and 80 percent continued even when the “learner” cried out that he had a heart condition and asked to be let out of the experiment.

How can we understand these results? The obedience was not due to sadism or personal evil since the demands of the experimenter caused great anxiety and discomfort to the participants. Rather, as Milgram explained his results, it appears that the average person will obey the command of the experimenter even when this may cause harm or death. Could the participant have refused? Obviously yes, all he had to do was saying, “I am not participating” and to withdraw from the experiment. It is hard to conceive that the experimenter had any special powers to enforce these commands. Perhaps there were conformity processes at work?

It seems difficult for the average person not to obey in the presence of an authority figure (Blass, 2000, 2003; Hamilton, Sanders, & McKearney, 1995; Miller, 1986). The situation in the Milgram studies was about the effect of obedience on otherwise normal people. The situation contained powerful influences, both normative and informational. The participant wanted to be liked by the authority figure, or at least not disappoint him. Being liked under conditions of genocide also brought approval, perhaps even promotions and medals. There were also informational pressures. The situation was very ambiguous. In the experiment there was, on the one hand a believable and apparently legitimate experiment with specific demands. On the other hand, there are also norms in society that we should not hurt others. What to do? In such a conflicting situation we look to others, the experimenter, for guidance, and he was quite unperturbed. He responded to the participants anxiety by saying, “you must continue to shock the learner, and yes it must be at ever increasing levels”. In the face of specific commands, but also of conformity pressures, the large majority followed orders (Krakow & Blass, 1995; Miller, Collins, & Brief, 1995).

Varying the conditions of the experiment Milgram observed decreases and increases in the level of obedience. Situations that made the individual conscious of his responsibility, which emphasized the sufferings of the victim, or which brought the victim in close proximity, all reduced obedience. At the same time increasing the physical distance between “teacher” and “learner” increased the levels of obedience, and made the teacher more willing to shock at higher levels.

13.5 Obedience or conformity to situational demands: The Larsen experiments
The results of Milgram’s studies showed that nearly all obeyed the commands of the experimenter. It seems most of us are socialized to respond to teachers and other authority figures in a similar way. Eichman was, for example, by and large a very willing and otherwise an ordinary human being. Does that mean that people just get caught up in situations with a variety of conformity pressures? Could this be investigated using a paradigm similar to that of Milgram? Milgram (1974) stated that he was certain there were personality factors underlying the willingness to shock an innocent victim, but he had not found them. Snyder & Ickes (1985) suggested that those in need of social approval were more likely to conform. If the situation was powerful enough we might then see compliance to the situation, and orders would not be necessary to obtain willingness to participate and continue.

Larsen and his collaborators (Larsen, Coleman, Forbes & Johnson, 1972) investigated these issues in the early 1970s. They carried out a series of experiments to examine the relative importance of the situation versus the personality of the participant in a Milgram type experiment. However, rather than ordering the teacher to continue the experiment they allowed the situation to create demands on the participant. Therefore we can say that they studied situational conformity rather than the obedience paradigm of Milgram. The results that followed were an even more devastating statement of the ordinary person’s lack of independence. As we shall see the participants in the Larsen et al. experiments did not require commands to shock an innocent victim. Rather the apparent pressure of the situation was sufficient in producing results very similar to those discovered by Milgram. To further reduce the pressure, the participant in Larsen et al. could choose any level of shock as they could for example go back to lower levels if they felt that that might be more useful.

Prior to the experiment the participants completed five measures of aggression and hostility in the guise of another study, and with a time delay to allow it to become an independent testing in the minds of the participants. Subsequently these personality measures were used as predictors of behavior in the experiment. The results showed no relationship whatsoever between personality traits and laboratory aggression. This finding lends further support to the contention that it is the situation that is exerting influence and not personality. Alternatively, it indicates that the behavior in the experiment had little to do with aggression, and more to do with conformity.

Four other conditions were explored to examine varying social learning and conformity situations. If personality is less a factor would the social learning that would occur by watching another person shock an innocent victim, be sufficient to produce higher levels of shock as compared to a control condition? The participants arrived at the laboratory and were told, “we are a little behind in the experiment. To save time explaining the apparatus you can come in and watch the current teacher operate the equipment.” The participant was then shown a confederate of the experimenter who was operating the apparatus at very high levels of shock whenever the “learner” made a mistake. Would the mere fact that someone else models this behavior be sufficient to encourage the actual participant to also shock at high levels?

Another condition was called the “high model” condition. In that condition the subject had the experiment explained in front of the apparatus and was then told to proceed as in the control condition. The apparatus was left with the dial at 350 volts leading to the possible interpretation that the last participant was shocking at these high levels.

Finally in the conformity condition we asked the participant to make joint decisions about what level of shock to deliver with two confederates of the experimenter. Of course unknown to the participant these confederates were instructed to shock at increasing levels in response to each “learner” error. The actual participant was manipulated to sit in the center and was the one to deliver the actual shock. Would the mere fact that two other confederates increased shock levels induce the actual subject to follow suit?
In the control conditions the experiment was only explained as a teacher- learner experiment, and the participant was left to his own devices as to how to proceed, whether at low levels or high levels of shock. He was not told to go either up or down in shock levels, it was entirely his choice, and there was no pressure from the experimenter as he left the room.

13.6 Situational conformity and normative pressures
As can be seen the above situations contained relatively mild pressures, and in no case did we have to encourage compliance. The experimental conditions yielded significantly higher levels of shock as compared to the control conditions. These findings lend support to the social learning underpinnings of the experiment. Despite these mild pressures the participants delivered shock levels at increasingly high levels, even levels that might injure the participant or otherwise be dangerous to his health. The participants could have stopped the experiment at any time. Unlike Milgram the researchers did not demand that the experiment continue. None of the participants refused to continue once the experiment was started.

To repeat, we think these results contain a more devastating statement about the ease by which we can manipulate cruel behavior in the ordinary person. In the Larsen et al. experiments there were no requirements or need to command and still the participants went along. That fact is also observed by the willing participation of ordinary people in many of the real world’s genocides. Most participants in these grisly events do not require the commands of others, just the modeling of “legitimate authority” is sufficient. Out of the 213 participants in the initial study only 3 refused to participate after which the experiment was explained and they were thanked.

The results showed that all three experimental conditions created higher levels of shock as compared to the control conditions. The average level for control was 157; for the model it was 172; for the high model (where the apparatus was left at 350 volts) the average shock level was 237; and for conformity 293. Overall the experiment demonstrated similar results compared to the Milgram experiment, but without instructions to go ever higher in levels administered or using compelling commands to continue. Again, the results show how easy it is to manipulate cruel behaviors from otherwise ordinary participants.

In other experiments participants were shown to be willing to shock even a small dog. After being introduced to the small dog strapped into the electrical chair the experiment was explained as one on learning, in this case learning by the dog to discriminate in paired comparisons trials. If real shocks would have been administered the dog would not only have died, but would have been tortured in the process at the shock levels administered (Larsen, 1974a). Another study demonstrated the willingness to shock a member of a racial minority (Larsen, 1974b). These experiments lend further support to the implicit pressure that the situation exerted on the participant.

Were these pressures normative? Did the participants comply for reasons having to do with a desire for approval? Another experiment was conducted (Larsen, Martin, Ettinger, & Nelson, 1976) which demonstrated that those high in approval seeking motivation shocked at significantly higher levels when compared to those with lower needs for approval. It is less likely that informational conformity played a role as the experiment was completed in solitary conditions with only the initial explanations used in the control condition of the previous studies. These studies argue for the powerful role of situational pressures expressed through both normative and informational conformity. In the model conditions the participant looked to those modeling the behavior, or for clues in the experiment. In the control and approval seeking conditions it was primarily normative pressures of pleasing the experimenter that played a role, as there was no direct or indirect informational pressures or models.

13.7 Why do we obey or conform?
There are obviously normative pressures in the experiments within the obedience paradigm of Milgram, or as in the situational conformity studies of the Larsen et al. When people are in an apparent position of authority like the experimenter, it is difficult for most people to decline participation (Blass, 2003; Meeus & Raaijmakers, 1995). When in addition there are peer pressures as well, as we saw in the Larsen et al. experiment, participants in the study shocked at higher levels. The normative pressures are rooted in the desire to be a good participant and to please the experimenter. There are also informational pressures at work. The experimental situation is ambiguous, and the participants needed information about how to behave. If the “learner” cries out in pain, what is the appropriate response? The participants looked to the experimenter for this information, he was after all the expert.
There were also other reasons why the participants continued. The step-by-step increase in shock levels made the process very seductive. After all if you shock a person at 15 volts, why not 30 volts and if you are at 350 volts why not 355 volts? This gradual increase was seductive to most participants who could not clearly discern where the line was located between conformity to the experiment and harm to the “learner”. Once the participant had justified a level of shock, it provided the justification to go to the next level. If a participant wanted to break off participation he did it against large normative pressures to continue (Darley, 1992; Gilbert, 1981; Modigliani & Rochat, 1995).

In Nazi Germany we saw a similar procedure. Laws were gradually changed allowing for discrimination and groups were selectively persecuted. First the Nazi’s went after the communists, then other groups followed. Having not objected to the initial persecutions the German citizens found no easy way to resist what followed. Fascists use similar step- wise procedures to train those who torture political prisoners. Initially they were ordered to deliver blows in the course of causal contact with the prisoners. This would be followed by watching torture committed by others (social learning). Next they participated in group sessions with fellow torturers that included floggings or other forms of collective torture. Only after all these steps was the candidate considered ready to be in charge of his own torture session (Haritos-Fatouros, 1988; Staub, 1989).
In the experiment most participants found themselves between opposing demands.

Milgram found that when empathy was created for the “learner”, participants decreased the levels of shock administered (Blass, 2003). If the experimenter “tuned” in the “learner”, for example by having the participant sitting next to the “learner”, or having him force the arm of the “learner” to receive the shock, then obedience decreased. So by creating “proximity”, empathy for the suffering of the victim increased. Is this not what makes modern warfare so cruel and lethal? Modern armies kill their enemies by missiles, smart bombs, and even drones that unleash missiles in another part of the world. During the American war on Vietnam millions perished from high altitude bombing by B 52’s where the perpetrators never saw the carnage on the ground. A former pilot explained his mission as follows. They would leave from a base in a nearby country. After a few hours of flying time they were over the target. They had an oven on board and would cook a pie, dump the bombs at the assigned target, and then return to base. Never did they have to confront the reality of the death and destruction unleased on the ground. Thus increasing emotional distance decreases empathy with suffering and makes genocidal behavior more common and likely.

13.8 What would you have done in these experiments?
The high levels of collaboration in these experiments were not anticipated by anyone. Although we saw these experiments as the laboratory equivalent of genocidal behavior, the experimental situations did not seem compelling. It should not have been difficult to resist and refuse to participate. This is what most people think whenever they are presented with the results. Having asked many we would inevitably get a “no” response when we asked “would you participate”? From all walks of life people who have never been in these experiments would claim that they would not have behaved in the way these participants did. Is that really so?

The real value of these experiments is that they lend support to the normalist position on genocide. Given compelling situations most people would in fact follow the directives of evil from apparently legitimate authority and commit crimes of varying dimensions. Given the right circumstances the capacity for destructive conformity lies in all of us. These participants were not exceptional in any way, nor were they who committed all the horrors of world history. Most were very ordinary citizens.

The actions of reserve police battalion 101 in the massacre in occupied Poland in 1944, illustrates the point (Browning, 1992). These reserve police officers were all peaceful citizens of Hamburg who volunteered to serve in this unit, probably to avoid war. So when they were asked to round up Jews from a little Polish village Jozefow and told they were to shoot them, it must have come as a shock. However, their resistance was feeble. Some tried to leave the area, some stood in the back of the execution squads, or tried to miss when they fired. However, none stood up and said they would not obey the criminal command. There was no easy way to disobey.

In a similar way the Milgram and the Larsen et al. participants found themselves in a compelling situation and complied with orders or conformed to the situation. People who have good intentions, but lack the moral fiber to resist an evil situation pave the road to hell? Milgram offered the opinion that, were death camps to be created in United States similar to what we saw in Nazi Germany, sufficient personnel to man these camps could be found in any mid sized American city (Blass, 2003; 2004).

It is important to realize that these experiments were not about aggression. According to Milgram even Eichman was sickened by what took place in the concentration camps, but he did not have to face it on a daily basis. Instead he was a bureaucrat who gave orders that allowed the death dealing machinery to perform efficiently to the highest German standards (Milgram, 1976). Since the ground had been prepared for a long time, generations really, it was easy for participants to feel that they was doing the right thing, they were after all only following orders.

Like Eichman, the participants in the aforementioned experiments felt released from any feelings of responsibility. The experimenter was an apparent legitimate authority that took responsibility for all that happened. The experimenter provided cover for the participant as legitimate authorities do in genocides. Whenever we see genocide in the world it is always supported by an ideology and authority that legitimizes the behavior (Zajonc, 2002). Cruel behaviors are transformed into acceptable, even laudable actions that deserve praise and medals, and not condemnation.

The behavior in these experiments also shows that people will often act contrary to their moral values when the situation provides sufficient pressure. Although torn between the desires not to harm the “learner”, the pressure of command or conformity overcame any hesitation. Although compliance was explicitly commanded in the Milgram experiments, it is important to remember that that was not the case in the Larsen et al. studies. Yet in both cases participants were able to rationalize their behaviors and comply with the demands made. Again it was the ordinary person in Nazi Germany that made evil possible. German civil servants cooperated willingly with the holocaust by doing the paper work necessary. They did not directly kill anyone, but they did the work necessary for the machinery of death to work (Silver & Geller, 1978).

13.9 Underestimating the power of the situation: the fundamental attribution error
Typically, as noted above, people told about these experiments have negative views of the participants, and view the behavior as some type of moral failing. In our individualistic society it is common to overestimate the power of the individual dispositions and underestimate the influence of the situation. The aforementioned experiments, especially those that emphasize situational conformity show again that the power of the situation should not be underestimated. We must be on guard for the fundamental attribution error if we want to understand the social processes that produce both good and evil in society (Bierbrauer, 1979). While most people are still inclined to believe in the responsibility of the individual, social psychologists show repeatedly the power of the situation will overcome any personal inhibitions. Even the commanders of the concentration camps were not outwardly different from ordinary people. They would relax after a hard day’s work of killing thousands by listening to Beethoven or Schubert, and carried out their deathly work without any apparent personal hostility (Milgram, 1974).

14. Do cultures differ in conformity?
It follows from the fundamental attribution error that cultures vary in their expression of conformity. Although conformity and obedience may be found in most societies, they may vary in frequency (Bond, 1988). Children in collectivist cultures describe themselves as being more compliant and less likely to defy adult expectations compared to children in western societies (Garbarino & Brofenbrenner, 1976). However, as we have seen participants in the Milgram-Larsen experiments came from individualistic societies and yet complied and obeyed at high levels. Perhaps there is something even more basic than culture: human nature and dependency. The need for social approval is universal and seems to override any cultural differences. Otherwise compliance to evil demands and commands is universal, and can, given the right conditions, overcome any good or generous impulse of the individual.

15. Ethics and political correctness: the search for the truth of the human condition
As mentioned in chapter 1 the above studies by Milgram caused a political storm in psychology that had many consequences. A psychologist (Baumrind, 1964) unleashed a barrage of criticisms of Milgram that included the notion that the experiments produced potential psychological harm through psychological stress and subsequent lower self-esteem. She found the deception used in these studies to be unethical, and the debriefing that followed the experiment to be inadequate. Milgram (1964) however strongly defended his work. He noted that no harm came to the subjects, and that the participants were all given a satisfactory explanation at the end of their participation, and expressed positive feelings about participating.

Some think today that psychology has weathered the political storm that ensued, and has learned from this critique (Miller, 1986). However, one of the consequences has been the establishment of strict guidelines for the protection of human subjects in psychological experiments. These guidelines have now been interpreted to the point of absurdity on university campuses that fear loss of funding if they do not comply. The result is mindless preoccupation over studies that have absolutely no effect on participants, such as responding anonymously to simple paper and pencil surveys. Not only has a whole new bureaucracy been created, but also studies have to be approved at multiple levels including campus wide committees that have no expertise in the field being investigated. It used to be that in social psychology we used deception to get at the truth, now we use informed consent (tell the subjects all about the study), and encourage dishonest behavior. If the participants in the Milgram and Larsen studies had been told that we were really investigating the potential of the normal average person’s willingness to shock innocent victims would we have obtained the same results? Baumrind’s victory diverted psychology from its principal task of describing the human condition, even the unpleasant parts of what it means to be human.

In other words there is now a new conformity in social psychology that is also represented in other parts of society. The conformity can be called “political correctness” as the behavior generated is primarily surface compliance with government rules and regulations with little other meaning. Milgram, however, was right in his contention that no harm was done. A year after his initial research a psychiatrist interviewed the participants and found no psychological harm. There is all reason to argue for similar consequences in the Larsen et al. studies. The researchers obeyed the ethics of that time in providing total debriefing after the experiment was completed, and were of course available for any follow up discussions. Without any exception the participants left satisfied after these explanations.

Further it could be argued that these studies provided the participants with a social inoculation effect. Just like inoculating against physical disease, we think that these experiments inoculated the participants against mindless obedience and compliance. The Milgram studies today are discussed by students in social science everywhere, and are part of the history of our science. Many thousands of students have learned of the ease by which they can be manipulated or are willing to obey commands to hurt potential victims. One of the important outcomes is therefore found in the determination of these direct or vicarious participants in not allowing themselves to be found in similar circumstances. We have no way to know, but might that have had a restraining effect on some battlefield of the numerous and continuous wars of the United States and Europe? We can believe that they have added to well-justified skepticism of authority, of orders and of situations demanding compliance with unethical behavior. In that regard one must conclude that the benefits far outweighed any imagined harm to participants. The outcome, however, changed the history of social psychology in a permanent way, and will make it more difficult to study social behavior in countries where political correctness is the norm of the day.

This chapter discussed the important roles of social influence. Social psychologists recognize three forms producing changes in behavior. Conformity is behavior resulting from the pressure of others. Students engage in binge drinking because this is behavior favored by their peers. Compliance is where people respond to specific requests or demands. Typically compliance involves people in unequal power relationships, where the more powerful have means to encourage or enforce compliance. Obedience is where the individual yields to influence because the person with power commands performance of certain behaviors. Obedience is basic to all the genocides of the world, along with the apparent legitimacy of the authority that issues the order.

Although we think of conformity in pejorative terms as manifestation of mindless behaviors, going along with others may also be wise. In many cultures it is essential for social harmony and the effective functioning of society. In history we have seen societies liberate themselves through conformity to the norms of nonviolence as in the case of India, and also in the case of the civil rights movement of Black people in the United States.
Some conformity is so fundamental that we are unaware of its presence. The ideomotor effect of James refers to the unconscious mimicking of others. Various studies show that mimicry is experienced as flattering, and perhaps became part of the human repertory because it served to advance the individual.

The classical studies were discussed because they have an effect on thinking in social psychology even today, and changed the history of our discipline. Sherif in 1936 studied how group norms evolved in the auto kinetic situation where participants stare at a stationary light in a dark room and experience the illusion of movement. Individually they experienced varying lengths of movement, but when making estimates in groups pretty soon a group norm emerged to which all members eventually agreed. The auto kinetic effect was demonstrated in a situation of ambiguity. Informational conformity occurs when people are in uncertain situations where they have to look to others to decide the appropriate course of action. Research has shown that informational conformity may lead to errors in identifying criminal suspects, which is why such identification must occur in private and without any clues or pressures from the situation or law enforcement.

Mass hysteria is a consequence of informational conformity. In times of crisis and war the need for information is high, and as we have seen it can produce hysteria of a scale that includes millions of people. Historical examples of mass hysteria include the invasion from Mars scare, and persecution of those with minority opinions during the times of McCarthyism. In other cases we see that informational conformity also plays a role in mass psychogenic illness. People may become ill, feel the same symptoms, be taken to hospitals, but without any physical cause. Ignorance can produce informational conformity. McCarthyism dominated the political and cultural life of the US for decades, and those who did not conform faced severe sanctions including loss of jobs and prison.

Sherif’s study was carried out in an ambiguous experimental situation. Asch, a former student of Sherif, wanted to observe if conformity would also occur in a situation where there was no ambiguity. In his study of perception there was no doubt about the correct response, yet he found astonishing high levels of conformity, where 75 percent of the participants conformed some of the time, and 37 percent on all the critical trials. Since the conformity did not derive from the need for information, the only factor left was the desire to please others, the experimenter and fellow group members. Normative conformity occurs when we change our beliefs, perceptions, and views in order to be liked, and to avoid disapproval or punishment.

We can resist these influences. Even in crisis or under conditions of genocide there are those who resist and refuse to comply. At the base of all dissent is a healthy attitude of skepticism. Think where the world would be today if there had not been among us those who refused to go along with scientific dogma like the Earth is flat. Fundamental to all social progress is this attitude of skepticism.

It is however, a common human desire to be liked. Rejection is experienced as extremely painful feelings, and may even cause self-destructive-behavior. That is why solitary imprisonment is the worst form of social rejection. One reason we need social contact is perhaps the very long human dependency period, longer than for any other living organism. We will go to great lengths to be accepted by groups of people we value.
Among the major factors supporting normative conformity are group size, the unanimity of group opinion, and the level of commitment to the reference group. The research on unanimity, however, shows that people find it easier to resist if they have even just one ally. These findings suggest that we should always include a “devil’s advocate” to argue the opposite point of view in all organizations in order to avoid the errors that derive from informational conformity. Not all groups are of equal importance; those groups that are central to a person’s life, family, and those political and religious organizations that are central to individual values exert the greatest conformity effects. When a person is strongly bonded to such organizations he is more likely to conform.

Resistance is also more likely if people observe models of individuation, people who have a desire to be different and stand alone, apart from the group. Where culture does not permit individuation we would observe more normative conformity.
More conformity may also be a consequence of personality. Those who have low self-esteem may lack the confidence to resist pressures. The idea goes along with the need for acceptance as essential for normative conformity. Some effects have also been found for gender, with females being socialized to nurture relationships and to be slightly more conformist. Female conformity is especially higher in situations of direct observance by others. These situations that exert group pressure, get pretty close to what is the definition of conformity.

Culture may also play a role. Collectivist cultures may exert more pressure to conform when compared to cultures that value individuality. Perhaps these higher levels of perceived conformity are due to our misunderstanding of the dynamics in collectivist cultures. In these societies conformity may be more in the nature of courtesy and respect, and valued for reasons of social harmony. In these societies population density requires an emphasis on courtesy and conformity.

Much of social psychology is a-historical. Our research is reported as if it has historical validity for all time. Yet, recent investigators have reported decreasing rates of conformity using the Asch paradigm. This chapter raises the question what decreasing rates in Asch conformity experiments means in terms of conformity for the rest of society. In recent years the conformity experiments have been discussed widely and the decrease in conformity may simply reflect more information. Also societal norms have changed, and we now see more conformity from norms of political correctness. These norms derived from the social movements of the 60’s provide surface compliance as they frequently come with the power of enforcement and sanctions by government. There is also strong evidence from the Larsen et al. studies that conformity in the Asch paradigm changes with conformity levels in the broader society, that we can observe transhistorical changes in conformity rates. This finding should be a caution that the work of social psychology never ceases because as norms change our understanding may also need correction.

The forces of conformity can be observed everywhere in our daily lives. People rise for the national anthem, move through courtesy rituals, or obey fashions or fads without great consideration or evaluation. Most people will go along with the crowd. Often there are conflicting norms within the same society, and how is that resolved? In the Hardy and Larsen study of women’s hemlines at a religious university, the resolution was a compromise between peer and institutional norms.

Preferred body images also demonstrate the powerful role of conformity, both normative and informational. There are cultural differences that determine the preferred female form. Where there is plentiful food a preference for thinness prevails, in societies that struggle for survival plumpness may signify fertility and well-being. Within our own society we can also observe how preferences have changed over time, with currently a preference toward an unhealthy extreme thinness as promoted by fashion magazines. These extreme norms are primarily responsible for eating disorders among young women and girls as they seek to conform to anorexic images. For men there is now also an obsession with images that reflects increased muscularity in western societies. The GI Joe figure popular among boys shows how the image has changed over time, along with increased aggressive militarist accessories. Boys are indoctrinated early on into militarism.

Research has shown the powerful role of minorities in overcoming mindless conformity. Strong and principled minorities are basic to social progress. Minorities have not only the ability to resist, but can also change the opinions of the majority. The style of the minority matters as the nonconformist presentation must be both forceful and consistent. If that is the case the majority may reevaluate its viewpoints and change. Minority views are especially beneficial for tasks that require novel solutions. The dual process theory suggests influences are different for the minority and majority. The minority influence causes a reevaluation and produces pressures to reconsider. The majority has the power to produce surface compliance without necessarily private acceptance.

Compliance requires among other things power. We have observed in human interaction many sources of power including coercion and rewards. Sources of legitimate authority and expertness, and the ability to alter the environment are other ways of encouraging compliance. Mood may also play a role since when you are in a good mood you are more likely to comply. There are also a number of ways to manipulate people to comply with a variety of requests. The purpose of these manipulations is to alter people perceptions of what is being asked and thereby increase the likelihood of the desired behavior.
We have also much evidence from both history and the laboratory of morally bankrupt behavior. Few people (except psychopaths) are prepared to commit evil upon demand. But when the group or national mind is prepared by propaganda the results may be destructive of an unimaginable scale. Propaganda shapes the perceptions that allow for evil whether among the Nazi’s of the past or in contemporary society.

The genocidal behavior of the Nazi’s did not end an era of human cruelty; it was but a chapter in the continuous brutality of the world. The dimensions of the cruelty of the holocaust led to the debate as to whether those participating were exceptional (being sadists or psychopaths), or average normal persons. The latter is considered the more frightening “normalist” position explaining that ordinary people perform evil on the scale of genocidal behavior. Milgram addressed this issue in his teacher-learner experiment. What he discovered was that the average person obeyed the experimenter’s command to shock an innocent victim even when it could cause great harm or possible death. This obedience paradigm was followed by the Larsen et al. experiments on situational conformity, where the researchers showed that they could obtain comparative compliance by the mere influence of the situation. In no case did the experimenter in the Larsen experiments command or encourage compliance, and the results can be considered an even more devastating statement on people’s ability to maintain their independence. It is important to remember that genocides rarely require direct commands. Most are carried out through the willing participation of otherwise normal people. In the Larsen et al. experiments only the presence of an apparently legitimate situation had the required influence. In situational conformity we could observe both informational and normative pressures. The situation was somewhat ambiguous and created a situation of conflict between socialized norms to not hurt others, and the demands of the situation to complete the experiment. Informational conformity was reflected in the responses to models that served a social learning function in the experiments. Normative pressures were also present in the desire to please the experimenter and peers.

The Larsen et al. experiments returned to the issue of personality, raised but not answered by Milgram. The results showed no relationships between measures of aggression and hostility on the one hand and compliance on the other hand. However, a separate study did produce higher levels of shock administration by those participants high in need for approval. In these experiments as in real life the participant was seduced by the step-by-step procedure. These step-by-step procedures are also used to train those who use torture to extract information. Creating empathy with the victim on the other hand decreased the level of shock in Milgram’s studies. Sadly that has little effect in modern warfare, as there is little proximity to victims who are killed by bombs or missiles.The important question is what you would have done in these experiments. Despite protestations to the contrary nearly everyone who started the experiment completed it. The results lend support to the normalist position, that ordinary people can and do behave in ways harmful to others, and will often act contrary to their personal morals and values. We do not understand this in our society due to the fundamental attribution error, where we overestimate individual dispositions in behavior, and do not recognize the power of the situation to seduce compliance. While there are some cultural differences it should be remembered that the shock experiments were carried out in so-called individualistic societies and not in collectivist cultures. There is however, something more basic than culture, the universal human need for approval and acceptance.

As we now know the Milgram experiments produced a storm of criticism within psychology. The issues raised concerned the protection of the participants from self-discovery that in the critique’s mind impacted self-esteem. In fact follow up results showed that there was no harm done to the participants, and they might even have had the benefit of being inoculated against blind obedience or mindless conformity. Sadly the controversy has also resulted in directing research away from crucial issues like genocidal behavior toward more innocuous issues of little relevance to the human condition. The name of the new conformity is “political correctness” that produces mindless conformity to the point of absurdity in academia. However, laboratory aggression studies are classic as they possess lasting value. In the long distance future students can still learn of the ease of manipulation, and the potential willingness of ordinary people to participate in harmful behavior.

Being Human. Chapter 8: Persuasion

Nearly all human interactions involve some form of persuasion. Parents urge their children to study hard, children will ask parents for favors. Medical doctors recommend life styles that prolong life and your dentist tells you that brushing your teeth may prevent tooth decay. Turn on your television and you are bombarded with persuasive messages from a variety of companies that want you to buy their products. Everywhere we are pestered with persuasive messages trying to convince us of the value of the product and company. You see ads in the newspapers, hear them on television and the radio, and see posters in a variety of locations. Some companies operate in more subtle ways by sponsoring educational television, or having their logo displayed at sporting events.

Sometimes there are public service announcements urging people to stop smoking to avoid cancer. Other efforts at persuasion seek to stop the use of illegal drugs among the young. Some of these public persuasion efforts in the United States have achieved measured success and produced a considerable reduction in numbers of college students who use marijuana (from 50% to 21 %). Other education efforts helped reduce smoking in the US, which plunged dramatically since 1954 from 45 percent to 28 percent (Gallup, 1989). In recent years moreover we have been made aware of the destruction of our environment as a consequence of global warming and many are personally motivated to improve energy efficiency.

In the evening news, government officials make appearances and try to convince citizens that they are pursuing wise policies. During elections people are persuaded to vote certain ways, often in brief messages that extol the virtues of the candidate. In the US, political communications also denigrate the opponent in stereotypical ways by associating the candidate with negative images.

If we examine history we can also observe the persuasive efforts of political and social movements. Hitler thought persuasion important enough to have a cabinet post for a minister of propaganda. The Nazi’s had little respect for the average person’s ability to utilize factual evidence, and therefore made emotional appeals in a variety of ways. Goebbels, the propaganda minister, controlled all the media and produced vivid persuasive displays of national and party solidarity that depicted marches and other pageantry. Movies produced in the Nazi era extolled the German people and denigrated those considered subhumans. Many other propagandists were at work persuading the German people about the correctness of Nazi ideology, and judging from the historical events, these efforts were successful. When the outcome sought involves the manipulation of people in pursuit of one-sided and bigoted political goals, we describe these efforts as propaganda.

We live in a world of constant persuasion, no wonder that social psychologists undertook systematic studies of persuasion early in the historical development of our discipline. Persuasion may be either positive or negative depending on whether it is aimed at empowering and educating people, or is being used to manipulate for bigoted and destructive goals. The so-called Yale School of Communication completed the first systematic social psychological study on persuasion (Hovland, Janis, & Kelley, 1953). These researchers conducted many experiments that sought to understand what conditions were most likely to produce persuasion. The researchers in the Yale school sought to study communication in a paradigm where the influence examined is exerted by someone (who) that is communicating a message (what) to a target audience (whom).

1. The source of the communication: Who is the communicator?
Some people are more effective in persuading, and for various reasons we are more likely to believe and trust their message. We have all listened to teachers who despite our best effort put us to sleep. Other teachers have a personal charisma that keeps us motivated and encouraging us to come back for more information. Some people are just more intuitively likable; perhaps they have a sense of humor that is disarming, or possess some degree of authority that gives a favorable impression. When we like someone, we are also more likely to modify our attitudes in the direction of the communicator’s message.

1.1 Credibility
Credibility is an important communicator variable in persuasion (Hovland & Weiss, 1952). Communications attributed to sources high in credibility are more likely to persuade. Credible communicators possess both expertise and trustworthiness. Do you see the persuader as an expert in the field and does he know what he is talking about? In one early study (Aronson, Turner, & Carlsmith, 1963) participants were led to believe they were participating in an experiment on aesthetic. They were asked to rate poetic passages. Afterwards they were told of someone else’s positive evaluation of passages that they disliked. In one group of participants, the opposing evaluation was attributed to a student at a not highly rated college. In another group, the opposing evaluation supposedly came from T.S. Elilot, a famous poet. Not surprisingly more people changed their opinions as a result of being exposed to the high credibility source when compared to the fellow student (See also previous discussion of expert social influence in chapter 7).

Trust is conducive to credibility. Do you trust the person? Is he truthful and able to separate self-interest and the content of the message? Trustworthiness is essentially an issue of deciding if the person has integrity and can therefore argue even when against his own self-interest. When people do not have anything to gain, are seen as disinterested, we tend to see them as more trustworthy. In one study (Walster, Aronson, Abrahams, & Rottman, 1966) a criminal who argued in favor of stronger law enforcement was very persuadable. Of course, it helps if others repeat the same message, especially if the communicators are independent. If a number of people convey the message that tobacco is harmful, if you hear this from family, friends, government, and scientists, you are more likely to be persuaded (Harkins, & Petty, 1981;Walster, Aronson, Abrahams, & Rottman, 1966; Ziegler, Diehl, & Ruther, 2002; Jain & Posovac, 2000). Credible speakers tend to be direct in conveying their messages. When they communicate, they display little hesitation, are not afraid to show emotion that expresses sincerity, they display eye contact with the audience, and avoid any hints of nervousness (Mehrabian & Williams, 1969; Riggio & Friedman, 1983).

However, credibility is a two way street. If the messenger is seen as credible, we are more likely to believe the message. And, if we like the message, if it corresponds with our strong beliefs, we are also more likely to believe it came from a credible source (Fragale, & Heath, 2004). Advertisers know what makes a message credible. Note that the promoters of a certain medicine on television often employ spokespersons dressed like doctors. These spokespersons are actors and know nothing or little about medicine, but by dressing them in white medical coats the promoters try to create a belief that this is an expert speaking with disinterest. The advertisers present spokespersons that are believed to convey credibility, and are considered experts who can be trusted to speak for the interest of patients.

Are these advertisements successful? Some must believe they are effective since huge amounts of money are spent on promotion. Superficial attempts at establishing credibility can persuade others when the topic is not central to a person’s concern. Most consumer products fall into that category, as it is a matter of indifference to the consumer whether he buys brand A or B. It is not a matter of life or death which tooth paste you buy, and one brand of aspirin may be as good as another. When the recipient has low motivation about the message, the recipient relies on the communicator’s attributed credibility. Under conditions of low motivation, people pay little attention to the content of the message and focus more on the credibility of the communicator (Rhine & Severance, 1970).

If communicators are not credible can they still persuade? Some research suggests that if the recipient can separate the message from the communicator, then over time the message may be persuadable. This is called the “sleeper effect”. Even those we distrust initially may have an effect over time as people forget who said what. Consequently the message may endure at some level of consciousness, and people may eventually be persuaded by the message when we no longer remember the messenger (Pratkanis, Greenwald, Leippe, & Baumgardner, 1988)

1.2 Attractiveness of communicator
Beliefs and other cognition tend to be consistent with those we like. Chaiken (1979) showed that students who were seen as physically attractive were also more persuadable. Attractiveness can be a physical attribute like beauty, which is why advertisers often use lovely women to sell a variety of products. Some people may also have attractive personality traits that is effective help in persuasion (Petty & Chaiken, 1986; Petty, Wegener, & Fabrigar, 1997). Attractive communicators seem especially persuadable when the message is not immediately salient. Also, if people have little knowledge on the topic they are more likely to be impressed by the more superficial elements of communication like attractiveness of the communicator (Chaiken, 1980; Wood & Kallgren, 1988). We like those who are similar to us in some important way, and find them attractive.

1.3 The groups to which we belong
Most people belong to groups, and these groups have norms and beliefs central to our identity. In social psychology such groups are commonly described as reference groups (see chapter 6). In one study on attitudes toward military balance some participants were told that 82 percent of their peers favored US military involvement in the Western Hemisphere. Another sample of participants were told that 82 percent of their peers opposed intervention. Both groups were then presented with speeches of equal strength covering both sides of the issue. Results showed that popularity matters as participants moved toward the side endorsed by most of their peers (Mackie, 1987). Because we like the groups to which we belong (otherwise we would not belong), we find group opinions persuadable. Even accepting that we have individual positions we lean toward the views of those of our reference groups (Terry & Hogg, 1996). Perhaps reference groups are influential because we process information differently depending on whether it comes from the in-group or the out-group (Mackie, Worth, & Ansuncion, 1990). We take the information from reference groups more seriously as it reflects our values. However, our previous discussion on majority influence also might invite superficial attitude change.

1.4 Audio and visual versus written messages
The communicator characteristics discussed above are important in audio and visual communications found in speeches or television adds. In visual and auditory persuasion efforts, the recipient is able to pay attention to traits in the communicator. Is the speaker attractive, does he manifest credibility, is he considered an expert and trustworthy, and does he have a likable personality? If these traits are manifested, the communicator will be persuadable. It stands to reason that such traits are less important when the communicator cannot be seen or heard as in written communications. In written persuasion the recipient must attend more to the message and therefore the content and logic of the message takes on increased importance (Chaiken & Eagly, 1983).

2. Focusing on the communicator
If we have our mind made up and hold to a position with dogmatic steadfastness, no communicator, despite having all the aforementioned favorable traits, is likely to persuade a discrepant point of view. Faced with communications that challenge our viewpoint we may reduce dissonance by denigrating the communicator. Discrepant communicators are seen as not credible, not reliable, and as generally possessing negative personal traits. Discrepant communication occurs in practically every situation involving disagreement. In political debates the opponent is labeled with negative traits, and is therefore not to be trusted. Opponents in politics are called disingenuous, which is just a polite way of calling them liars.

Attacking the credibility of the communicator reduces the dissonance we might otherwise feel from discrepant messages. In the current Middle East crisis in Gaza and Lebanon where so many civilians have suffered, writers to local paper have often sought to justify the disaster by calling the reports distorted, or the civilian death tolls exaggerated. Those who are pro Israeli accuse those who communicate about civilian suffering of being anti-Semitic. This is an effective dissonance reduction technique in Western societies, since anti-Semitism is such a pejorative term that it cuts off any debate. By denigrating the source in opposing communications, we can effectively remove any dissonance. We do not pay attention to the communicator, but scrutinize the message for unfair discrepancies (Petty, Fleming, & White, 1999).

However, when discrepancy does not elicit our defenses, when we are lazy or do not have the ability to attend to the communication, then we tend to rely on our perceptions of the communicator (Wood & Kallgren, 1988). We are more likely to believe the message if the communicator is likable, and appear to have the right credentials. Lacking the ability or motivation to attend to the message the characteristics of the communicator increases in importance. Many people do not have the energy to understand the subtle differences between brands of consumer products and therefore the apparent credibility of the communicator is the deciding factor in buying the product. When you do not have strong feelings about the brand of toothpaste you buy, a credible communicator may help you decide.

3. The message: what is being communicated
The message communicated is a second important factor studied in the research of the Yale School of Communication. It matters what we say. If we communicate illogical messages in rambling and confusing ways, we will not find many converts. People need to find the message relevant to their concerns. To be persuaded the recipients also need to have some knowledge about the issue, and feel that the message appeals to our sense of personal responsibility.

3.1 Global warming and a high quality message
Last night the documentary on global warming by former US presidential candidate Al Gore (now Nobel prize winner) was shown in a small theatre in Amsterdam. The film is called “An inconvenient truth”, and was a skillful blend of facts, humor, and communicator attractiveness. Few left the theater without great concern for what is happening to our planet as a result of the burning of fossil fuels. The consumption of fossil fuels has lead to what scientists are calling the “green house effect” (as smoke is released into the atmosphere). Global warming has produced drastic increases in Earth temperature producing drought, storms, and potentially severe planetary disruption in the not to distant future. Even if you have not seen with your own eyes the melting of the glaciers in Alaska and South America, the message by Gore is convincing to laymen as it is to nearly all scientists.
The film was what might be called a high quality message as it contained many novel suggestions of actions for increased energy efficiency. Among the positions advocated in the movie is our need to rely more on renewable sources (Burnstein & Vinokur, 1977). High quality messages include suggestions for actions as otherwise the recipient would feel hopeless and defeated. In Cuba the country has replaced energy consuming light and kitchen fixtures with those consuming less energy. The country is now in the process of changing all old refrigerators with new models that are more energy efficient, and the replacement of old televisions are next in line. It would seem Cuba has taken seriously the message on global warming. As Gore points out, we have the possibility of saving our planet, but it will take great effort and political will. The audience who was at the movie was motivated and highly selective. The average person in the US and in Europe would probably rather go and watch escapist films produced by major movie companies. In this highly motivated audience, however, the message from Gore was effective as it appealed to the viewers core values, a basic requirement for high quality persuasive messages (Cacioppo, Petty, & Sidera, 1982).
There was no beating around the “bush” in the movie; the message was explicit (Hovland, Lumsdaine, & Sheffield, 1949). Yet Gore did not push the issue, but rather established fact upon fact, and then allowed the spectators to determine for themselves the nature of the crisis, and what must be done (Stayman & Kardes, 1992). In a very humorous way Gore also poked fun at the ignorance of those who continue to deny the urgency of our environmental crisis, and provided irrefutable evidence to counteract their arguments. These are all essential elements of high quality communications (Hass & Linder, 1972; Petty and Wegener, 1998).

The film incorporated the best of what we know about persuasion. It has been demonstrated by previous research that vivid presentations as part of a personal narrative are more persuasive than the mere repetition of statistical facts (Hamill, Wilson, & Nisbett, 1980). An “Inconvenient truth” was a vivid presentation in the form of a personal narrative as Gore spoke of his long journey confronting the polluters of our atmosphere. He spoke movingly of his sister’s death as a tobacco victim, employed cartoons in a skillful but poignant blending of humor and urgency. If the world is to be convinced of the message of global warming, people must feel this type of personal relevance.

Perhaps all the surviving victims of natural disasters of the past decade are now believers in global warming? If action had been taken earlier, as Gore suggested, many of these victims would not have perished. High quality communications include vivid and personal depictions of the victims (Collins, Taylor, Wood, & Thomson, 1988). Someday, global warming will be very vivid to all of us, and we will all be victims. The United States is currently responsible for more than 30 percent of global warming and therefore has a special responsibility. Still it takes the effort of all nations to remove the crisis from our lives. Do you think people are sufficiently aware of this crisis and will take personal action? It is a very discrepant message for many people who don’t want to change their lifestyles, and therefore may be seen as not credible. Yet, the data are overwhelming about the coming catastrophe.
People are more likely to be persuaded if the message does not overtly appear to influence them, when it allows people to come to their own conclusions (Petty, & Cacioppo, 1986). If we want to be successful, we have to be aware of the audience and move at a speed they are comfortable with. Like the message in Gore’s presentation it is best to include the opponent’s views so to better refute these, two sided communications are more persuadable (Allen, 1991; Lumsdaine, & Janis, 1953).

3.2 Primacy versus recency in communication
Another finding from the Yale school refers to primacy or recency effects. Is the first message or speaker more influential than the last speaker? If one communication immediately follows another with some delay before the audience makes a decision (like in an election), it is best to be the first presenter? In election debates the first candidate has the advantage since the audience decision is delayed until Election Day. When there is a time interval between presentation and response the material presented first is best remembered (primacy effect) for temporally closely presented messages. However, if a candidate comes to an audience one day, and is followed at a later date by another candidate, then the last communication is more effective, since it is more recent (recency effect) and therefore remembered (Haugtvedt & Wegener, 1994).

The primacy versus recency debate has practical consequences. At trial the prosecution presents both the initial arguments, and also the final summation. Does that mean that the prosecution has all the advantages? The Innocence Project in the US has released many prisoners from death row, who were found after conviction, through DNA tests, to be innocent of the crimes of which they were accused. Perhaps the prosecution has too many advantages in convicting, and the defendant too few in trying to demonstrate innocence. In one study (Miller & Campbell, 1959) students examined an actual transcript of a trial. The arguments of the plaintiff were placed in one document, and those for the defense in another. When the participants returned a week later, most were persuaded by the information they read first, in other words the primacy effect. This effect was furthermore established by another study. The participants found that the defense statement was more compelling when presented before the prosecution’s evidence. These results suggest that people pay most attention to the information presented first, and they therefore support the primacy effect. However, Miller and Campbell also found evidence for recency. The participants read either the prosecution or defense testimony, and then a week later returned to read the second. If they were then required to immediately state their opinion after the second message, the information presented last was most influential. Perhaps it is memory loss that produces the recency effect. Other problems of the fair presentation of facts in the judicial system are addressed in chapter 12.

3.3 Fear as a message characteristic
An effective message may include fear. Fear helps arouse emotion, and motivate acceptance of the communication and a willingness to act. On the other hand if the fear becomes too intense, ego defenses may be mobilized, leading the recipient to disregard the message entirely. Extreme fear also allows the person to denigrate the communicator, and indeed the message itself. The expected catastrophes that will eventually follow global warming produce too much anxiety for the average person to accept. As global warming occurs gradually, it allows us to deny the reality or rationalize our fears. Is global warming an issue for another generation?

The key factor in effective fear messages is to include enough factual information to generate interest and concern, but not so much that the fear will distort the message. In addition, fear messages are most effective when they also include practical advise on how to handle the issue. Yes, AIDS will kill you, and we can marshal all the supporting information for the sexually active. However, in our communications we should also show that there are ways to avoid AIDS through abstinence or safe sex practices including the use of condoms. Providing solutions to counteract the fear is essential in any fear-based messages (Boster & Mongeau, 1984).

In one study that sought to change smoking habits, fear was created in three experimental conditions. In one condition the participants were shown a very vivid film describing the effects of lung cancer, including a video of a surgery showing the blackened lungs of a smoker. In the second situation, participants were given a pamphlet advising on how to quit smoking. Participants in a third group were exposed to both the film and the pamphlet. Results showed that those shown both the scary movie, and receiving the advisory pamphlet changed their smoking habits most. Those who just received the pamphlet were not motivated by fear and reduced their habit less. Those who just saw the film were scared and reduced their habit more than the pamphlet group, but less than the group receiving both movie and pamphlet. The best results were produced by scaring the smoker, and at the same time giving concrete advise on how to respond to the fear. Many studies have found similar results (Becker & Joseph, 1988; Job, 1988; Leventhal, 1970; Robberson & Rogers, 1988).

Other studies have also shown fear to be a potent variable (Muller & Johnson, 1990). Whether dealing with the ill effects of smoking, or other habits, studies generally show that people will respond more intensely the more they are frightened (Leventhal, 1970; Roberson & Rogers, 1988). In studies of Wilson, Purdon, & Wallston (1988) and Wilson, Wallston, & King (1987,1988) doctors mailed their patients a letter about smoking. In one condition the positive aspects of smoking cessation were emphasized, the patients would live longer if they stopped smoking. In the other (negative) condition they were told they would likely die an early death if they continued to smoke. The positive approach encouraged 8 percent of the smokers to quit, whereas the fear appeal produced 30 percent cessation rate. However, once again the studies showed that the fear must be coupled with practical steps on how to avoid the threat.

Fear appeals are used with great effectiveness in the manipulation of citizens of practically any country. The Nazi’s used the phobia of Jews to create support for the “final solution”. The US government used the so-called “domino effect” to create fears that South East Asia would fall to socialism, and hence develop support for the war on Vietnam. Not a day goes by in which those in conflict do not use some form of fear to energize support for political or military action.

3.4 The audience and emotional appeals
Whether fear or other emotional based responses are effective depend on the audience. Those in society who tend to be well educated, and understand logic are more likely to be persuaded by rational fact based appeals (Cacioppo, Petty, & Morris, 1983; Hovland, Lumsdaine, Sheffield, 1949). The less educated are more likely to be influenced by the communicator rather than the message. For socially marginal people liking the communicator is sufficient in the acceptance of the message (Chaiken, 1980). Motivating voters in the United States – and surely in many other countries – is difficult since as a group they tend to be uninformed and unmotivated. Voting preferences are largely based on the liking process. We saw that used shrewdly many years ago in the Eisenhower presidential campaign, the slogan of which was “ I like Ike” (Ike being short for Eisenhower). Several years later Ronald Reagan was elected on his apparent likeability qualities, and his ability to make the voters feel happy (Abelson, Kinder, Peters, & Fiske, 1982). For voters in the US and probably elsewhere too, short vivid emotional messages are often sufficient to produce desired behavior.

3.5 Positive moods
If fear can persuade can happiness also convince people? When we create happy moods for the recipients, are they also likely to be persuaded? We have examined the happy mood effect in political campaigns, but even more shallow forms of enjoyment have persuasive consequences. Janis, Kaye, & Kirschner (1965) found that students who were allowed to enjoy peanuts and Pepsi while reading messages, were more likely to be persuaded. In another study (Galizio & Hendrick, 1972), musical lyrics that was accompanied by an enjoyable guitar rendition was more persuasive than the lyrics alone. Every child knows that it is best to approach parents for favors when the mood is right. Probably bad grades from school are also best presented when the mood is good at home, although that knowledge may change the emotional tone. In general putting people in a good mood enhances persuasion. People in a good mood make more impulsive decisions and rely less on reason and systematic approaches (Schwarz, Bless, & Bohner, 1991). By contrast, unhappy people are more likely to contemplate seriously about the message thinking it perhaps contains possibilities for more unhappiness.

3.6 What about if we don’t agree with the message?
How discrepant from our own position are we willing to accept a message? Early research indicated that the more discrepant from the recipient’s position the more persuasive the message (Hovland & Pritzker, 1957). Others, however, showed that this is true only up to a point. If the message was too discrepant, it would allow the recipient to doubt the credibility of the communicator (Eagly & Telaak, 1972). The aforementioned research shows that low or high discrepancy produces little change since more persuasion occurs in the intermediate areas.

For a variety of reasons, the US public, far more than the public in Europe, has accommodated an acceptance of Israel’s behavior toward the Palestinians. In the past letters that criticized Israel were not published by the editors in the US press. In recent times this has begun to change. Initially, the critical letters were not too discrepant, but skillfully advocated more moderate positions. Some letters to the editors were however more discrepant, and described the behavior of the State of Israel as criminal. Research would suggest that moderate criticisms would be more effective in changing people’s minds on this or any issue.

The situation was similar during the war on Vietnam. Initially, the large majority of US citizens were in favor of US intervention. As the war progressed and causalities mounted, the support waned. The public was not persuaded initially by the “radical” opinion that the US should withdraw. However, when prominent and credible people began to urge this position (like Senator Robert Kennedy), people began to change their minds. This shows another important feature of message acceptance. As was discussed before, when people have credibility, they can argue more discrepant positions, and often people will follow.

In the original Yale communication studies, persuasion research was modeled on psychophysical judgment experiments that showed both assimilation and contrast effects. If the message was not too discrepant from the recipient, it was more likely to be accepted and change occurred. However, if the message was too discrepant, it crossed the latitude of acceptance, and was rejected. If a message is too extreme, the communicator will look preposterous, and the message rejected (Hovland, Harvey, & Sherif, 1957). Zanna, Klosson and Darley also supported the aforementioned results (1976) in a study on newscasters. People viewed the newscaster as too biased when they felt a large discrepancy in communication from their own position. Highly discrepant points of view also caused the recipients to denigrate the newscaster. Generally, people are open to change, but only within some latitude of acceptance.
Commitment to an issue affects persuasion. The highly motivated have a narrow range of acceptable positions, and if we try to persuade outside their latitude of acceptance, the message will be rejected. Those less committed can be persuaded to a larger extent, since they have a larger range of acceptable communications (Pallak, Mueller, Dollar, & Pallak, 1972; Petty & Cacioppo, 1979).

When using the functional approach it is important to remember that messages too discrepant will be rejected. Highly discrepant messages will cause too much dissonance, and the recipient may distort the message, or simply reject the communication. Either way persuasion is not successful unless we persuade within the recipient’s latitude of acceptance.

3.7 The quality of the message
Initially the arguments that demonstrated global warming were weak and not persuasive to the majority of people in the world. This was due to the technical nature of the issue and the gradual development of global warming. Many people felt that this was an issue for the distant future, and global disaster was not imminent. In the aforementioned film by Gore, the arguments were put together in a way that all people could understand. When the reality of global warming found nearly universal support of scientists around the world, the arguments became compelling.

When people are highly involved and motivated, high quality arguments give people pause for reflection and they motivate people to change (Friedrich, Fetherstonhaugh, Casey, & Biller, 1996). We have already noted, however, that many people are not involved in contemporary issues, and therefore do not respond to strong messages. For people who feel peripheral to issues, the sheer number of messages may be more important. Strong arguments are primarily useful when people are highly motivated and want to learn more (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986).

3.8 Cultural characteristics favoring type of message
In the previous chapters, we have indicated in a number of instances differences between Asian and European/US type cultures. Does culture influence the definition of what is considered an effective message? This is an issue referring to the fundamental values of society. We know that Asian and perhaps other cultures are very community-oriented. In these societies success is seen as part of community progress, or at least from the point of view of advantages to the family. European/American culture on the other hand is more independent, and achievement motivation focuses on the individual, with less reflection on community or family consequences.

Is this basic cultural difference reflected in advertisement? Han & Shavitt (1994) showed that advertisements in American and Korean magazines varied according to this cultural division in values. American ads emphasized appeals centered on individual benefits of a product. “If you use this product your teeth will be more shiny and white”. Korean ads, on the other hand, centered on benefits to the larger community such as good dental hygiene produces less offensive breath. They concluded that individual ads were more effective with American audiences, whereas the community based ads had greater impact on Korean audiences.

3.9 Does it help to repeat the message?
Recently there was on US television an ad about topical pain relief. The ad was repeated every few minutes on several channels. For many people, the repetition was extremely annoying, and most people would have to suffer a lot of pain before they would buy that particular product. However, research by Zajonc (1968) showed that repetition actually increases liking. Others (Cacioppo & Petty, 1979) have demonstrated limits to the utility of repetition.
Repetition is felt as negative if it creates boredom or tedium. In many homes people use that wonderful invention called the “mute” button when annoying ads come on. On the other hand, repetition may help in the processing of the message: “this is a pain relief which can be applied directly to the affected area”. Therefore if you are in pain (and after all pain sufferers are those whom the advertiser wants to persuade) then the affected individual will pay attention and perhaps buy the product. The answer to both boredom and the need to process information sufficiently is to vary the repeated commercials (Cacioppo & Petty, 1985).

3.10 When we are not motivated to listen
Again, whether a message is persuadable depends on the motivation of the recipients. If the message is not in an area of great interest to the recipient, then repetition and the length of the argument are important. Generally, longer messages are more persuasive among those who are less informed. Is that why Fidel Castro gives such long speeches to the Cuban people, and elsewhere in the world? However, for those who are informed, the strength of the argument is of greater importance in persuading people (Wood, Kallgren, & Priesler, 1985).

3.11 When we are motivated: functions of our attitudes
Remember the functional theory of attitudes by Katz (see chapter 5). He suggested we develop attitudes because they perform certain psychological functions for us. Some attitudes are based on ego defensiveness, the desire to keep unpleasant reality at bay. One conclusion from Katz’s theory is that if we want to persuade we should match our message to the function of the underlying attitude. Attitudes that serve emotional functions, like ego defensiveness, are more easily changed by appeals to these emotions (DeSteno, Petty, Ruckrer, Wegener, & Braverman, 2004).

Successful persuasion matches the message to the functions of the attitude. For example some people are motivated to prevent problems or avoid negative states. Other people are more positive in approaching some desired outcome. Persuasion is more effective when communicators match these preferences for regulating issues in life (Cesario, Grant, & Higgins, 2004). Recall the previous study on tobacco prevention. Some tobacco addicts are more motivated to prevent disease. We tell the preventive smoker that if he stops using tobacco, the cessation will prevent the development of lung cancer. Others may be more persuaded by promoting the positive aspects of smoking cessation. We tell these smokers that if they stop smoking they will be more popular with the opposite sex, their breath will smell better, and they will save a great deal of money. Researchers have found similar regulatory orientation in dental health (Mann, Sherman, & Undegraff, 2004).

Some attitudes are primarily cognitively based, and we should try to change these by utilizing rational appeals. Other attitudes are primarily emotional in nature. Research shows that persuasion is most effective when we try to use arguments appropriate to the attitude. As in the functions proposed by Katz, attitudes also serve primarily emotional or rational needs in the recipient. When attitudes are emotionally based, use appeals that address feelings, when attitudes are more rational try to persuade with good arguments and logic (Shavitt, 1989; Snyder & DeBono, 1989).

3.12 The type of message medium used in persuasion
As we noted in the introduction of this chapter there is a variety of ways in which people attempt to persuade others. Your wife or husband may want you to change some aspect of your behavior. Your doctor wants to discuss your lifestyle choices since your liver cells are showing some abnormalities. Your teacher meets you in his office and is concerned about your grades. In each case there is a face-to-face encounter, where someone is trying to change someone’s behavior. In other cases we see persuasive messages on television or educational tapes. Not quite so personal, but the presentation can still be very vivid. At the other end of the media spectrum is the use of the written word. As we have noted, written text can have a persuasive effect when people are motivated to learn, and to seek solutions for problems.

3.13 Messages for passive recipients
In one study, a weeklong campaign sought to change student behavior with respect to littering on a university campus (Paloutzian, 1979). Many efforts to persuade were made by means of posters and slogans placed in mailboxes. Paloutzian wanted to see if these had any effect, so he littered trash near a disposal bin, along a well-used path. The litter was distributed when the campaign began, and when it ended. Did the campaign encourage students to pick up the trash? Results showed that none of the students picked up the litter at the beginning of the campaign. At the end of the campaign only 2 out of 180 passerby’s picked up any trash. Hardly a sterling success of written persuasion! The use of speeches in church sermons was not much better at persuasion (Crawford, 1974). Regardless of the type of media, if the audience is not motivated, little persuasion can be established.

3.14 Is personal influence more effective?
Personal contact is persuasive. When the competent family doctor talks to you about your health, most people pay attention, and are persuaded. As difficult as it is, it also takes personal intervention to motivate people politically. In the Eldersveld and Dodge (1954) study, the effect of different media in political issues was investigated. The election concerned a revision of the city charter in Ann Arbor, Michigan. One group of participants was only exposed to information through the mass media, the second group received four mailings in support of the proposed change, and the third group of participants was visited personally. From those only exposed to mass media 19 percent voted in favor, of those who received the mailings 45 percent voted in favor, but from those visited personally 75 percent voted in favor of the city charter revision. It is a clear-cut result. Visiting a person is more persuasive in eliciting the desired behavior.

Similar results were found in a study to reduce heart disease (Maccoby & Alexander, 1980; Maccoby, 1980). The media used to persuade people was varied in three communities in California. In one community there were no special appeals other than what people might routinely see in normal media. In the second community, the residents were subjected to a multimedia two-year campaign that included radio, television, and newspapers. In the last community, the residents received not only the persuasive messages from the media campaign, but were also visited personally. Using behavior modification, the personal contacts sought to improve the health practices of recipients in a high-risk group. As might be expected, the media campaign had some positive effect in persuading people to improve health practices, but it was the personal contact that produced the most significant change.

Perhaps personal influence is all there is? Maybe those who changed in reaction to the media campaign changed not because of the media, but because a wife or husband saw the relevance of the health campaign to a beloved spouse, and persuaded the change in behavior! This is what the theory of Katz (1957) would suggest. He described communication as moving from the media to opinion leaders who in turn persuade others. It is difficult to study media influences independently, since we cannot know how people are persuaded by significant others. One thing we do know, the closer the media simulates personal communication, the more vivid it is, the more likely it is that persuasion will follow. This means that in the media, vivid communications are most effective, followed by spoken and written words. “A picture tells a thousand words”. This is particularly true if the message is simple and easy to comprehend (Chaiken & Eagly, 1983).

4. Characteristics of the audience
In much of the world today, persuasion is a form of political manipulation. Research into political manipulation tries to understand particular audiences and their core values. A political candidate utilizing such research may give one type of speech in city A, and a contradictory speech in city B, as each location may have different views on the issues of the day. The basic motivation of political manipulation is to get elected or reelected.

The nature of the audience is critical to the effectiveness of a message. Keeping in mind the latitude of acceptance by the audience, effective speeches must operate within this range, or they will be rejected. The audience is significant in a variety of ways. Recipients differ with respect to personality (conservative or liberal minded), with respect to mood, and simple demographics like age and gender. Mood may also depend on changing situational factors. As the price of gas skyrockets in the world, fuel-efficient cars are seen as attractive, and persuasion to buy these enhanced. Likewise as people’s fears of the results of global warming are increased they may be persuaded to buy energy efficient home fixtures and lights.

4.1 Cognitive involvement
People differ in their willingness to evaluate and think about issues. Some people seem to be saying, “tell me what to think”, or “do the thinking for me, I don’t have the time or motivation”. Others are presented with an issue, and they personally want to research the problem, and then take some action.
Some people, because of their background, have a need for cognition (Cacioppo, Petty, Feinstein, & Jarvis, 1996). People high in need for cognition like to think about issues, like to evaluate different solutions, and actually gets pleasure from thinking. Thinkers are more likely to be persuaded by strong messages high in quality, which presents arguments well supported by reason and logic. At the same time, they are not so easily motivated by superficial arguments, those that appeal to emotion or mood. The cognitively motivated instead think through an issue, and accept persuasion based on the merit of the arguments (Cacioppo, Petty, & Morris, 1983; Haugtvedt & Petty, 1992).

4.2 Changing mood of recipients
As noted above mood is a factor in persuasion, especially for those motivated by changing emotions. After the attack on New York, September 11, 2001, the people in the US were in a mood of fear and disbelief including many of the US legislators. The administration did not have a difficult job in persuading Congress to pass invasive security laws, or finding support for the war in Afghanistan. The mood of fear generated by 9/11 also generated support for the war on Iraq, although the latter country had nothing to do with the attacks in New York. So moods can be powerful manipulators of public and government opinions, and their effect lasts a long time. Now most of the people in the US feel that the war in Iraq was a mistake. Sooner or later the public will change its views to a more sober perspective, but only after a great deal of destruction has taken place first, it seems.

Charismatic leaders have a special ability to manipulate their followers. We saw that in Jonestown, Guiana, in the mass suicide of the followers of Reverend Jones. Similar charisma could be observed in the ability of Reagan to manipulate the cold war (he was called “The great communicator”). Communicator charisma was furthermore employed during the Nazi era through Hitler’s skillful ability to create mass hysteria during his rallies, and in mobilizing the German people for war.

A receptive mood facilitates persuasion. Some of the early studies showed that people were more likely to be persuaded if they listened to beautiful music (McGuire, 1985). The music put the recipient in a good mood, and was therefore more likely to accept persuasion. As in the previously reported case of matching messages to the functions of attitudes, the best results are obtained by matching mood and message. When people are scared or sad, pessimistic messages may be more effective. For recipients in a happy or optimistic mood, uplifting and optimistic messages yield more persuasion (Bless, Schwarz, & Wieland, 1996; Wegener, Petty, & Smith, 1995). A positive mood gives reassurance to the recipient, and therefore there is little need to evaluate or worry about the message (Albarracin & Kumkale, 2003). Positive mood can even help in persuading people faced with negative information. For example, positive mood led to an acceptance of the negative consequences of too much caffeine consumption among heavy coffee drinkers (Raghunathan & Trope, 2002).

As we have also seen elsewhere, repeated exposure may affect mood. Liking usually follows the familiarity of repeated exposures, a fact utilized greatly by advertisers (Harmon-Jones & Allen, 2001). Others have shown that repeated exposure has enduring effects (Sherman & Kim, 2002). People’s moods can be inferred from situational factors like catastrophes, or from long standing personal or social problems like poverty. Messages used to address these moods will find receptive minds and hearts. Those who have suffered most best understand the appeal for revolution all over the world. As noted by Karl Marx many people from social classes that did not suffer also understood the message by logic and rational arguments and supported the victims of oppression.

4.3 Commitment and involvement
When we are truly committed to an issue, we are less likely to accept discrepant persuasion; which is another way of saying that our latitude or range of acceptable messages is narrow (Rhine & Severance, 1970). If on the other hand a member of the in-group communicates a slightly different position, we will listen. However, those who are committed to an idea or position are willing to suffer great discomfort and dissonance before yielding to contrary persuasion. For example, people who support Israel cannot help but notice the repression of the Palestinians. The dissonance created between the ideals of Zionism and brutal reality can however be resolved by denigrating and demonizing Palestinian organizations.

Commitment to positions in people is obtained by asking them to act on their attitudes. Strengthening the commitment occurs in stating a position to others. In other words public observation of stated positions strengthens that commitment. Addicts who are in rehabilitation are asked to share with the therapeutic group their determination to get healthy, and how past drug related behavior negatively affected their lives. When other people observe them take a stand, they are even more committed, because they want to appear consistent with their views and behavior. In articulating their views, they also understand their own opinions better, and from that understanding feel stronger commitment.

As previously noted some of our attitudes are learned second hand and reflect stereotypes of society. At other times, people have direct experiences that solidify attitudes and commitment. A Black person who experienced segregation first hand is more committed to racial equality than those who just read about it in history textbooks. Also, we are likely to be more committed when our attitudes reflect our personal will, and are not the result of socialization. The Bennington students probably felt that their initial conservative attitudes were those of family or community, but when they experienced the challenges of the university they adopted views which they truly owned and which were based on their own decisions.

Some issues are peripheral to our lives and others have meaning and reflect central values. We feel more committed when we deal with an issue that might have personal relevance. Whether you drink Coca Cola or Pepsi may not have much relevance to you. However, if your father died from smoking, tobacco use would be of great relevance, and commitment to health that much stronger. When issues are personally relevant we examine these more closely, and pay attention to the arguments. Since we know something about relevant issues we are not likely to be persuaded by superficial arguments. For personally relevant positions it takes strong arguments to be persuaded to a contrary position (Petty & Cacioppo, 1990).

Being involved in an issue does not prevent us from being concerned what others might think. Zimbardo (1970) suggested that in persuasion some people are more concerned with what other people think, whereas those who are involved in the issue are primarily thinking about the arguments. For involved people it is the issue itself that is important. Leippe & Elkin (1987) compared the importance of issue and response involvement in a study on comprehensive examinations. Results showed that only those who had a stake in the outcome (were involved in the issue), and at the same time did not worry about social approval, scrutinized the arguments carefully. To be persuaded a recipient must feel the issue is important, and not be immobilized by fear of what others think.

4.4 Unmotivated audiences
Can recipients who do not feel any personal involvement still be persuaded? Research says yes, but under different circumstances from those who are involved. Recipients who are motivated and analytical will weigh the arguments carefully. If the persuasion effort is within the latitude of acceptance, the motivated recipients may change their position. The unmotivated recipients, however, may be persuaded as a result of more trivial factors. For many people, persuasion is simply a matter of the attractiveness of the communicator, or the mood created by the communication.

Since it matters little to the unmotivated, they are also more likely to make impulsive decisions. The undecided voter is a large segment of the public in many countries who often make last minute impulsive decisions. Many voters go to the voting booth to choose a candidate or party and not knowing what to do make snap decisions with little reflection. The vote comes down to very peripheral considerations like whether the candidate smiled during the last debate, or the dress his wife wore. It is an awesome thought that the most important decisions of society come down to such impulsive thinking. The future of countries and the world are, at least to a certain extend, dependent on the behavior of the unmotivated.

Some people do not have the background or skill to make a reflective decision. Many voters lack the education necessary in order to answer complex questions about international peace, or local taxation. The manipulators in the political system understand this cognitive deficit. Political manipulators also understand basic ideas of voter like or dislike. Most people do not like to pay more taxes than necessary. Therefore any slogan that gives the impression that the candidate or party will lower taxes has a fair chance to become a winner in the current political system in the US and Western Europe. Political platforms take advantage of similar heuristics, making complex issues simple and manageable, and subject to persuasion (see also chapter 4). In many cases, change in political position comes down to whether the recipient trusts the source of communication, and that in turn can be manipulated in a variety of ways. Why are politicians in the US so fond of kissing babies on camera? Obviously a person who kisses babies must be a good person people think, and we should therefore trust him with our vote.

It is obvious that if we can stimulate thinking we can also persuade using arguments based on facts and social reality. Some experiments have stimulated thinking by asking rhetorical questions, using multiple speakers, by making people feel responsible for passing on communications, or by repeating messages, and removing distractions. All these techniques for stimulating thinking make high quality arguments more persuadable. Research shows that people who think analytically generally reject weak and irrational messages of persuasion. Analytical people will counter argue the premises of the communications (Harkins & Petty, 1987; Leippe & Elkin, 1987).

4.5 Get your message to the recipients while they are young
A great deal of research in social psychology is done with college age participants. For persuasion research, this presents a problem, because age is related to persuasion. Do college age persuasion studies have validity for other age groups? Children and younger people’s attitudes are not stable and therefore more persuadable (Sears, 1986). In recent years, a great deal of research has been carried out on eyewitness testimony. These studies examined memory reliability in children and young people. As noted in chapter 12, such eyewitness testimony has sent a significant number of people to jail who were later found to be innocent. Children and young people are more easily persuaded by powerful authority, and can be manipulated into believing in the reality of events that never actually occurred.

Older people with more stable attitudes are more inflexible and rigid, and therefore less likely to be persuaded (Tyler & Schuller, 1991). It is in youth and early adulthood that we form most of the significant attitudes that we carry with us through life (Krosnick & Alvin, 1989). If we reflect back on our university life, we would see these years as a time of significant experiences affecting our future thinking about people, life and society. Older people remember the significant or traumatic events of youth more than current events.

This age effect was observed in the Bennington college study, where conservative students developed enduring liberal opinions through their college year experiences. It is also during youth that young people take up unhealthy habits like smoking. Peer pressure can be significant, and at young ages the health hazards will not get a hearing. Death as an eventuality will be seen as so far away as being of little or no concern (see discussion on health psychology in chapter 12).

4.6 Personality traits
Some research has focused on personality traits in the audience. It is not surprising that people low in intelligence are more easily persuaded than those of high intelligence. Recipients low in intelligence often lack self-confidence. Since they have erred previously in life, people low in intelligence think it is better to yield to others who are better informed. Self-esteem of the recipient is also a factor in persuasion. People with moderate self-esteem are more likely to be persuaded, than those with high or low self-esteem (Rhodes & Wood, 1992). High self-esteem provides the confidence necessary to resist, and low self-esteem produces skepticism toward all assertions.
Some traits like authoritarianism or dogmatism are thought to be important to persuasion. These traits refer to those who are rigid, intolerant, and show deference to status and power. The authoritarian person defers to those who have authority, and are more easily persuaded on a variety of issues. The quality of the argument does not matter as authoritarians are persuaded equally by strong or weak arguments (DeBono & Klein, 1993). Authoritarians get more confident in making decisions when they perceive they have social support and are not exposed to contradictory information (Davies, 1998). Authoritarians do not tolerate ambiguity, and have strong needs for closure. Since they want the debate to end, they are more likely persuaded to make impulsive decisions (Kruglanski, Webster, & Klem, 1993).

4.7 Counter arguments
Most of us have come across a point of view with which we did not agree. In response to discrepant messages, we mentally list all the reasons why the message is not sound, and why it should be rejected. Persuasion of disagreeable arguments produces counter arguments. If the source of the message has low credibility, the arguments are easy to rebut (Perloff & Brock, 1980).

We can also protect our loved ones against negative persuasion. The tobacco companies want you to buy cigarettes since to them it is profit that matters. In countries where advertising for tobacco is not yet outlawed the companies are slick in their advertisements, so forewarning your children is a good idea. For example, tobacco makers usually hire young healthy looking models to sell their products. You could counter by saying that these models do not represent reality, as a billion people will die from smoking this century. The tobacco companies may try to sell their product as a cozy and harmless form of social interaction. You can counter that by telling your children that those who smoke will eventually not be present in the picture since they will die. Research has shown that when you forewarn recipients about a message (like promoting smoking), and if you provide all possible counter arguments, persuasion is difficult (Perloff & Brock, 1980).

Again, persuasion depends on the commitment of the recipient. When people are highly committed to a position like good health, and forewarned of the attempt to persuade, the recipient will resist (Chen, Reardon, Rea, & Moore, 1992; Freedman & Sears, 1965). So if we forewarn our children of the tobacco companies’ attempts to seduce, children may be able to anticipate the advertisements, and counter argue the message (Petty & Cacioppo, 1977). Children and young people who are the targets of tobacco ads may decide that the tobacco companies are biased and not to be trusted.
On the other hand if the recipient is not committed to good health, there are not many counter arguments available. Then forewarning may make the tobacco companies more persuadable, since the appearance of good health of models in the advertising are accepted at face value. When recipients are not committed, they do not have the tools to evaluate both sides of the issue. Without commitment we are likely to believe that any argument is sound (Apsler & Sears, 1968). However, those who are involved and motivated can be armed with counter arguments.

Distraction of any sort weakens our ability to resist persuasion. Distraction interferes with the person’s ability to counter argue, to find reasons to resist. That is the meaning of Hitler’s parades and rallies. The flags, the music, the hypnotic speakers, prevented most people in Germany from seeing what was obvious to the rest of the world. The real message of the Nazi’s was not the power of beauty, but the beauty of power, and most Germans could not resist the seduction (Petty & Brock, 1981). Persuasion is enhanced by distraction when it interferes with our ability to counter argue. The message gets through without the full awareness of the recipient.

4.8 Support and inoculation
The Milgram/Larsen type experiments are discussed in chapter 10. A strong argument in favor of these experiments on aggression was that the participants would be inoculated against future seduction. In the aftermath of the Korean War during the 1950s, some American soldiers chose to stay in North Korea, and not return to the United States. These soldiers were described as having been “brainwashed”, persuaded that the North Korean system was better and more just. McGuire (1964) thought that some soldiers were easily persuaded since they were uneducated, and had not previously defended their beliefs about country or politics. McGuire’s model for resistance to persuasion came from physical disease responses. Our bodies defend against disease by supporting bodily defenses through good nutrition, vitamins, or exercise. In modern times it has also been possible to defend against physical disease by inoculation, by which the individual builds antibodies through vaccination.

McGuire suggested that these two processes, support and inoculation, could also be applied to persuasion (McGuire & Papageorgis, 1961). In the experiment, one group received support for their positions, another group had their position attacked in minimal ways (vaccination), and the third group received neither treatment. Results showed that support helped a little, but greatest resistance to persuasion came from inoculation. It was reasoned that with inoculation, the participants thought more about their positions, and counter argued. Relative weak arguments against the recipients’ position allowed them to come up with many counter arguments. In the process of presenting weak arguments, the recipient learned to counter argue and marshal defenses against persuasion (Bernard, Maio, & Olson, 2003).

If you want to help young people against being persuaded by peer pressure to smoke, start by role-playing various seductive scenarios in favor of smoking (vaccination), and then offer counter arguments. In one situation the peer might say “smoking is cool”, the counter argument of the recipient may be “it’s not cool to smell bad”. A peer might say “smoking is very relaxing”, the counter argument could then be “well you won’t relax when you become ill”. The inoculation idea is to expose the recipient to persuasion to weak arguments in favor of a given position (“it’s ok to smoke”), and then offer counter arguments so the recipient is less likely to be persuaded.

Methods, support and inoculation, have produced positive results. When the arguments to be learned are simple (no thank you to drugs) a support network may help resistance. On the other hand, when we want people to think of counter arguments and thereby develop their own defenses (Bernard, Maio, Olson, 2003), inoculation has greatest utility.

As we can see effective communication requires attention to the motivation of the recipients, personality traits, age, and ability to analyze the issues. Some people make snap decisions of profound importance to society due to cognitive deficits. Others will make uninformed decisions because they are unable to tolerate ambiguity, and have a need for closure of any debate (Cacioppo, Petty, Kao, & Rodriquez, 1986; Sorrentino, Bobocel, Gitta, Olsen, & Hewitt, 1988). However, we can assist young people in resisting persuasion by the merchants of death through inoculation and support for healthy lives.

5. Persuasion through advertising
The media is used in modern society for a variety of purposes. Media presentations include public service persuasion for better health or useful community practices. The media is also used in political and consumer persuasion. More importantly, the media creates a framework for understanding our world, our changing social reality. Is the world really as dangerous and hostile as television programming would have us think? Is it really desirable that women look like the anorexic models presented in television programming? These are examples of changing social reality produced by modern media in the western world.

5.1 The media in the service of society
Over the years we have seen repeated public announcements that try to reduce smoking in our society, have they been successful? Some studies suggest that few people are persuaded by these means (Tyler, 1984; Schanie & Sundel, 1978, Lynam, Milich, Zimmerman, Novak, Logan, & Martin, 1999). More novel use of persuasion occurs when role-playing scenarios are used to persuade in the use of safe sex practices. Role-playing has proved useful both in terms of self-reported behaviors and also in the rates of sexually transmitted diseases (Jemmott, Jemmott, Braverman, & Fong, 2005).

However, a more recent meta-analysis has tested the effects of the media in substance abuse. The results showed that after sustained campaigns, children developed more negative attitudes toward illegal drugs, alcohol, and tobacco (Derzon & Lipsey, 2002). The campaign also reduced the use of these products, with the vivid media (television and radio) having greater effect that the printed word. The media may be especially effective in reducing use among sensation seeking teenagers, those who abuse drugs for reasons of having high needs for stimulation.

Although complex, how can we deny the power of the media in the development of social and health habits? This can be seen in the rates of smoking for women who rose dramatically when tobacco makers used slogans from the women’s liberation movement to promote their products. In the early part of the 20th century, very few women smoked, that changed gradually over the years, and the rate of lung cancer in women now approach that found in men. The tobacco makers cleverly used tobacco ads suggesting that smoking was a way for women to demonstrate gender equality. In the US currently about 26 percent of adult men and 21 percent of adult women smoke. As smoking went down in the US, the tobacco makers moved to Africa and Asia with their lethal products (Teves, 2002).

5.2 Selling to the consumer
There are researchers who claim minimal effects from advertisement on the buying behavior of the public (McGuire, 1985; 1986). Yet each American watches 100 television ads daily, and sees hundreds of ads in the printed media (Pratkanis & Aronson, 2000). Are we to believe that this 200 billion dollar industry has no effect? Curiously, most people believe that other people are affected, but not they themselves (Duck & Mullin, 1995; Vallone, Ross, & Lepper, 1985; Wilson & Brekke, 1994). Still, inferential evidence suggests that people pay attention when motivated. For example, people motivated by political issues pay more attention to political ads (Iyengar, 2004). People who are not motivated are influenced more by the superficial and peripheral characteristics of a candidate such as looks or status.

Most advertisement seeks consumer attention and establishes product familiarity. It stands to reason that most effects are short lived (Bird, 2002). However, purchasing behavior may be influenced in indirect ways by advertising since both product loyalty and awareness are increased by ads. These indirect influences in turn affect buying behavior. The ad may initially use emotions to gain attention by associating the product with feelings of excitement and happiness. We can see this classical conditioning effort in the worldwide campaign of Coca Cola and Pepsi. The basic idea of these advertisements is to associate the product with human happiness. Nearly all advertisement is that superficial, but people will still be influenced. The telephone company wants you to buy a new cell phone. Instead of arguing the merits of the new product, the ads will show happy young people communicating, or perhaps a son calling his mother. The whole effort is to get to the emotions of the buyer, and product loyalty will follow.
Today tobacco and some alcohol companies have been curtailed in their use of advertisement in parts of the world. The response of the tobacco and alcohol makers is to have their products cleverly inserted into television shows or movies, often by glamorous actors or actresses. When products are glamorized, they have powerful seductive effects.

Despite skepticism, advertisement is effective (Abraham & Lodish, 1990; Wells, 1997; Wilson, Houston, & Meyers, 1998). Advertisers work with television companies and grocery stores to keep track of consumer purchases by means of special ID cards. Results of over 300 such tests show that advertisements encourage purchases, especially of new products (Lodish, Abraham, Kalmenson, Lievelsberger, Lubetkin, Richardson, & Stevens, 1995).

5.3 Selling the political candidate
Many hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on the election of candidates each year in the western world. We might assume that this enormous amount would not be spent unless political ads were effective since we live in societies where people want to get their money’s worth. Again the data are complex. Some studies suggest minimal effects from political advertisement (Levitt, 1994). Others suggest that ads affect the undecided voters, those with less involvement who are searching for a reason to vote (Kaid, 1981).

A feature of all political campaigns in the US and Western Europe is the denigration of political opponents. Many people get sick of listening to these efforts of persuasion and simply refuse to vote (Van der Veer & Herrebout, 1989; Ansolabehere & Iyengar, 1995). Elections in the twin party system of the United States often comes down to a few or fraction of a percentage point favoring either candidate (witness the Bush -Gore Election). Therefore if political advertising affects only a few voters, it may still have profound influence in a system where the winner takes all.

5.4 Subtle effects of the media and acceptable behavior
Influence is a two-process flow in communication (Katz, 1957), where opinion leaders are first convinced and then persuade others. Television may serve a similar process by convincing opinion leaders first on some issue who in turn persuade others. We cannot underestimate the power of the media. The media may influence people in subtle, not easily detected ways by setting cultural limits for behavior, by defining stereotypes, and demonizing enemies. We cannot just switch off the influence of television. What do the popular soap operas teach us about family, drug use, and sexual behavior? There have been great changes in these social behaviors over the last few decades. Perhaps soaps just reflect these social changes, but equally likely they have contributed to new norms.

5.5 Can we affect behavior by subliminal means through the media?
During the 2000 election the Bush campaign produced many negative advertisements against Gore. One Bush ad criticized the Gore medicine prescription plan. The ad was followed by the word RATS which flashed across the screen at one thirtieth of a second. The word was presented too fast for conscious awareness, but not too fast for it to register in the subconscious. Was the Bush campaign trying to influence potential voters without their awareness? The representatives of the campaign denied this, stating that the insertion was accidental (Berke, 2000). Others have argued that advertisers sell products by routinely implanting camouflaged sexual images in print advertisement to affect the mood of the reader (Key, 1973).

Most studies do not support the effect of subliminal messages on purchasing behavior, or the utility of listening tapes for self-improvement (Brannon & Brock, 1994; Pratkanis, 1992; Trappey, 1996). However, some studies from the experimental laboratory show that subliminal messages affect behavior. In one study people were asked how much they liked a series of Chinese characters. A human face that expressed happiness, anger, or no emotion in turn preceded these language characters. These emotional faces were only flashed for four milliseconds, again too quickly for conscious awareness. Nevertheless the subliminal message affected people’s evaluation of the Chinese characters, and those preceded by a happy face were liked the most (Murphy & Zajonc, 1993). Other researchers have found similar results (Dijksterhuis & Aarts, 2002; Strahan, Spencer, & Zanna, 2002). While real life is more complex than the social psychological laboratory, we cannot dismiss the possible manipulation that might occur as a result of slick and well-planned campaigns. In the case of Bush versus Gore it took very little to affect the outcome when who won came down to a few hundred votes in the state where George W. Bush’s brother, Jeb, was governor.

5.6 The media and social behavior
The media has other effects besides those discussed above, as it also provides a framework for the socialization of culture and social behavior. The relationship between specific ads and buying behavior may be minimal, but as the ads collect in the mind over time, our views of what is real is affected. Many, perhaps most of us, are influenced by the behavior presented in the media, even when it does not correspond to actual reality. In the western world, we tend to think of the world as a more hostile place than supported by crime statistics. Likewise we may be convinced that the anorexic female form, although it is far removed from normal femininity, is ideal. Through the media, those vulnerable come to believe that smoking is glamorous, and therefore start smoking (Kluger, 1996). Advertisement provides a framework for our social agenda and consciousness, even though we may not be influenced to buy a particular product.

With all the consumer ads we may come to believe that human happiness can be found only through consumption. That conviction is in total opposition to the health of the Earth, which is groaning under all the pressures of modern society. As global warming statistics show, something has to give. Media advertisement may change for the worse our very sense of reality and what constitutes constructive human behavior. Much advertisement is aimed at personal gratification and may therefore also change the underlying values of cooperative societies toward more materialistic and individualistic conceptions?
The very negativity of political ads may lead us to the conclusion that the whole world is going to hell or at least deteriorating (Eibach, Libby, Gilovich, 2003). The media promotes unrealistic conceptions of reality which effects behavior in a variety of ways, and determines what is considered important issues in society (Dearing & Rogers, 1996). The effect of newscasts in believing that energy dependency is an important social issue was studied in the laboratory. In the control group energy dependency was not mentioned at all. In second condition, energy dependency was mentioned in the newscasts three times, and in the third group six times. Among the participants who watched no news about energy dependency 24 percent still thought it to be among the three most important issues facing the country. Energy dependency importance rose to 50 percent for those who saw three newscasts, and to 65 percent for those participants who saw 6 stories.

Therefore, the mere reporting of news, and repetition of the same messages set the social agenda for many people. News exposure can also translate to political action. If the news is negative at the time of the election, this may be a factor against the incumbent party; if the news is positive it may bring further support.

The world described on television may not correspond to social reality, but it still has the power to convince us otherwise. One group of researchers examined and coded various television programs (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, Signorielli, 1986). The results showed little correspondence between the world depicted on television, and society. For example although nature created about the same number of males and females, women and girls appeared less frequently in the programs. Other social groups were also under represented, including the elderly and ethnic minorities. When was the last time you saw an old person advertising anything but pain medication? The use of the elderly to sell medication is another distortion of social reality as it suggests that the majority of old people are sick or infirm. The popularity of crime shows causes many people to see the social reality as more dangerous than are justified by crime statistics.

Political candidates also fit broad stereotypes promoted by the political manipulators. For men, they are on the average taller, and must have looks that indicate soberness and responsibility. The best president in US history was Abraham Lincoln who saved the Union and he was a very ugly man. In the modern world of television it is doubtful that he could be elected today. It could be argued that the media form our very conceptions of social reality. It decides what and whom we should pay attention to in a world largely ignoring the real burning issues of the day!

5.7 Stereotypic threat
Cultural and gender stereotypes are transmitted by the media. Recall our discussion of ideal male and female body types, both being serious distortions from reality. It is not just body types that are reinforced by the media, but the very content of ads suggests that men are active and women more passive (Furnham & Mak, 1999). Women are rarely depicted in roles of real power, but rather in roles of dependency on powerful others. Can these distortions affect actual behavior?

Some researchers have shown that when women think of negative cultural stereotypes, their behavior suffers as a consequence. If women are led to believe that they as a group do worse on mathematical tests, then they actually do worse. Some ads may actually promote these stereotypical anxieties (Davies, Spencer, Quinn, & Gerhardstein, 2002). In the aforementioned study, women acted in typical stereotypical ways in ads (jumping up and down on a bed in promotion of an acne product), or in counter stereotypical ways (showing knowledge about cars). Even though these products were not related to mathematics, women who watched the stereotypical ads did worse on mathematical tests subsequently. So advertisement may indeed have a significant influence in reinforcing negative stereotypical behaviors, and thereby create limits in our lives. If this effect can be found in the laboratory after only a few exposures, what might be the results of constant exposures of stereotypes over years!

6. Cultist persuasion
In modern times we have seen a variety of cults gaining members, and demonstrating a high degree of effectiveness in persuasion. Some cults have even convinced their members to commit collective suicide like the 900 members of the Reverend Jones’s Church in Guyana. Another cult believed they would join a spaceship after death and also committed suicide. The Nazi movement demonstrated all the features of a cult, and not only committed collective suicide, but also destroyed much of the rest of the world.

How can these events be explained? What forces are strong enough to convince people to end their lives or destroy others? It seems that cults know how to use the persuasion principles we have discussed in this chapter. In cults people are asked to behave in certain ways. For the Reverend Jones’ cult that included giving up all worldly possessions, and actively working for the Church. For the Nazi’s, it meant military training and participating in the persecution of social outcasts. Complying with these behavioral demands, produced acceptance of the ideology by the cult. The established principle from dissonance theory is that people will change their attitudes when changing their behavior. Cult members also seek to reinforce their beliefs by converting others. At first the request for behavioral compliance may be quite modest. In the Jones cult initially, monetary contributions were on a voluntary basis. Overtime the demands grew gradually, until Jones demanded all worldly possessions. We have seen this procedure called the” foot-in-the-door” work successfully in other studies. Eventually the cult members become true believers allowing for few doubts about truth or righteous behavior (Gerard & Mathewson, 1966).

All cults have charismatic leaders who appear credible to members. In their particular realm of persuasion, these leaders are seen as both trustworthy and as having expertise. They may display dramatic insights into life, persons, or scripture convincing to the followers. People who are unprepared or naive are more likely to submit to these appeals and trust the leaders’ credibility (Singer, 1979). In this world of uncertainty, people are attracted to messages that offer comprehensive solutions to life’s many perplexing problems. The cult followers may have experienced traumas, or perhaps the times are socially challenging. Such upheavals make naive people more vulnerably (Sales, 1972).

7. Some final thoughts about the Yale school of communication
Some final words on the model developed by the Yale school of communication. The Yale school suggests a number of factors significant in persuasion. The approach emphasizes the significance of communicator credibility, likeability, and the importance of reference groups in facilitating persuasion. The nature of the communication was also important as persuasion was facilitated by moderate discrepancy from the recipient. The research also examines motives, and depending on the motivation of the recipient, emphasizes the development of arguments that match recipient positions.

For recipients who rely on or have a need for cognition, rational arguments are most effective. For others whose positions are emotionally based, persuasion must address the underlying emotional needs. Recipient characteristics also affect the persuasion process. Are the recipients of the message ego involved? Those committed to a position are difficult to persuade. Research also shows that it is possible to inoculate the recipient by exposing him to small doses of the opposing arguments. Persuasion can also be minimized by forewarning the recipient, or by the use of distraction. Once the message is accepted, it may become part of the cognitive responses of the recipient. Persuasion, however, can in the cognitive competent person also unleash counter arguing and thereby be modified. People find arguments consistent with their worldviews to be more credible and acceptable. All of the above processes work together toward a change in the recipients’ position, or final rejection of the persuasion. Rejection can take several forms including denigrating the source of the communication. We can also distort the message itself, to make it more acceptable to our position.

8. Theories of persuasion
8.1 Process of persuasion
Kelman (1961) proposed a theory of processes of social influence. His theory is seen as an early effort to understand persuasion. When a person complies with the request of another, he does so in order to obtain a favorable reaction. The preceding chapter 7 on social influence was dedicated to the further understanding of the compliance process. Identification occurs, according to Kelman, when the message is accepted because the individual identifies with the messenger, and wants to maintain a satisfying relationship with a person or group. For example, one person accepts the other’s political opinion on war, because he/she wants to continue and foster a relationship that satisfies basic needs. The internalization process occurs when a person accepts influence because the message is congruent with his underlying value system. Internalization can be thought of as “real” attitude change that engages the mind and may therefore be lasting.

8.2 Persuasion routes in the recipient
The two most influential theories of persuasion are the Elaboration Likelihood Model (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986; Petty, Priester, & Brinol, 2002) and the Heuristic-Systematic model (Chaiken, 1987; Chaiken, Wood, & Eagly, 1996). These theories were developed independently, but reflected essentially the same reasoning. From the foregoing discussion, it seems clear that persuasion may take one of two routes depending on the motivation and knowledge of the recipient. In the Elaboration Likelihood Model, people take either the central or peripheral route. In the Heuristic-Systematic Model these same processes are called heuristic and systematic.

Some recipients are motivated by the issue and have some knowledge about it and they take the central route to persuasion. Since the message is relevant to the recipient, appeals to logic and reason will be most effective. Motivated people will think deeply about the message and check it for logic and accuracy. In the process, they will also retrieve from memory all relevant facts, knowledge, and past experiences to use in evaluating the content of the message. This evaluative process involving depth of thinking and prepare the recipient to accept or reject the persuasion. For motivated people, the arguments and evidence presented in the message are all important.

According to theory, when the recipient is not particularly motivated, persuasion proceeds along the peripheral route (which Chaiken calls the heuristic process). The less motivated individuals have little background and knowledge. Therefore the peripheral aspects of the communication become important. The individual attends to the superficial framework of a message such as length of the speech, repetition of a message, the wording of the message and characteristics of the communicator. In the peripheral route, the individual evaluates whether the communicator is likable, and does he/she give the appearance of credibility. Van der Veer & Van den Oosterkamp (2007) showed that charisma and appearance of the communicator might be sufficient for acceptance of persuasion in the peripheral route.

When using the peripheral route of persuasion, the individual employs simple cues in evaluation. These heuristics can be the frequency of the message, or how large a number of people attend a meeting, or the quantity of arguments within the message. In the peripheral route, the recipient does not contemplate, but accepts or rejects on such simple principles. These two theoretical models and the research that followed sought to understand when people would use either route. Results showed that the central route is employed when the issue is of personal relevance, when we have some knowledge, and when we feel personal responsibility for the outcome.

Only a very small sample of the public participated in demonstrations against war or racism, in the past. By their action peace demonstrators express by their motivation to hear messages about conflict resolution. When you are part of such a demonstration, like when in 1981 more than 500.000 people demonstrated in Amsterdam against the stationing of cruise missiles in the Netherlands, you may be tempted to think that the entire population rejects warfare. Unfortunately, it was only the peace demonstrators who were motivated, had knowledge about the causes for the war, and felt some personal responsibility for the suffering caused. That is called “preaching to the choir” when people have already accepted the message before any communication has taken place. The people who attended peace demonstrations were primed to hear the messages calling for peace.

Even the largest mass demonstrations in the United States included less than 1 percent of the population. Eventually the majority of the other 99 percent also expressed in opinion polls their disquiet with how events were unfolding in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s, and today in Iraq. The persuasion followed the peripheral route since most of these people were convinced by prominent political figures like Senator Kennedy in the Vietnam conflict, and popular entertainment figures like the Beatles. These popular figures were seen as both attractive and credible for many in the “silent majority”. In the current war on Iraq, we see a similar peripheral process for most people. Although there were mass demonstrations from before the start of the war, these represented but a small minority of the population. However, they still included large numbers of fellow citizens who appeared in the evening new programs. The apparently large numbers opposing US policies may have presented a simple heuristic to the “silent majority” to reflect more on the war. The demonstrations also suggested that decisions of the Bush government were not uniformly supported in the country. The initial reactions to the war were followed by the protests of many prominent and popular figures from the entertainment industry. Following the peripheral path of numbers and likable persuaders, the majority of the American people are now opposed to the war in Iraq. Similar figures can be reported for Great Britain, the major partner with the US in the war.

In sum, people utilize the peripheral route of persuasion when the message has little personal relevance, when they have little knowledge or background (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993; Petty & Cacioppo, 1986; Petty & Wegener, 1998). When we are tired or the issue is difficult, we are also more likely to go the peripheral route (Kiesler & Mathog; Petty & Wegener, 1998). Some issues are very complex and hard to understand. How many of us understand the new string theories about space and matter? For difficult issues, we are likely to defer our opinions to credible experts. In the peripheral route, it is not the quality of a message that persuades, but source attractiveness, or fame. Likewise simple heuristics like the number of times arguments are repeated or the length of a speech may be persuasive. Unmotivated people may infer the importance of a message from repetition or length of communications.

8.3 Do most people use the peripheral route on important social issues?
There is an assumption that both of these routes of persuasion are available to all people, and therefore based on our motivation we may respond centrally to some issues and peripherally to others. There probably are issues around survival that motivate all, and about which we all would think deeply. However, based on experiences in the peace movement, we believe that the majority of the people are persuaded peripherally on nearly all issues of social importance. Most people in the United States are relatively isolated from information about geography, history and political science. Intellectual isolation leads to a focus on personal and family survival. Also the US social system encourages a desire for consumption leaving little time for worry about larger social issues like global warming.

This is probably true also in other nations and cultures. When life is difficult the individual’s life is burned up by worry over immediate survival. Peripheral people feel that they must trust political, scientific, or religious leaders with getting it right on the larger issues of life. If this picture is accurate, it follows that the condition of humanity can be used both for manipulation or enlightenment. Manipulation can be seen in the use of simple heuristics in political persuasion. National leaders may argue “ you are with us or against us in the war on terrorism” as president Bush is fond of saying. Flag waving is a simple heuristic used to create similar categorization of loyal supporters and disloyal dissenters. At the moment, the sheer number of casualties and utter destruction in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Gaza are present simple heuristic ideas that convey emotional messages of victimization that most people understand, and it has convinced many that there must be a better way. Of course, it would have been better for the world if leaders and the people had had the education and motivation to use the central route. Then we could have evaluated in advance what were after all predictable consequences of creating a war.

Research has supported the two-route model (Petty, Cacioppo, & Goldman, 1981). Some messages prompt us to evaluate carefully when relevant to our motivation. Other messages are accepted on superficial cues, since we have little motivation and/or feel that the issue lacks personal relevance. Those interested in peace in the world would like to see the central route used, because only central persuasion is enduring (Chaiken, 1980;Eagly & Chaiken, 1993; Mackie, 1987; Petty, Haugtvedt, & Smith, 1995; Petty & Wegener, 1998). The lack of central persuasion is the theoretical explanation why people do not learn from history and why they repeat their mistakes. We live in an era of war and calamities, and the people of the world give the appearance of having learned nothing from previous conflicts. The public may now be convinced that the current conflicts are unacceptable, but what of the next war is on the horizon? As long as people are only persuaded peripherally to establish peace, they will always be subject to new manipulations of fears and to appeals to chauvinism.

Nearly all human interaction involves some form of persuasion. Whether in the family where parents seek improvements in children, or at the work place where the supervisor tries to motivate more productivity, persuasion is everywhere. Persuasion is neither good nor bad; it depends on the goals of the persuaders. When persuasion empowers people to improve life and serves to educate, then persuasion is a positive factor in our lives. However, persuasion can also have very detrimental goals. Persuasion of people can be devoted to develop life-threatening habits, or to manipulate voters, both are examples of negative persuasion.

The Yale school of Communication carried out the early work on persuasion in social psychology. A very systematic program it examined the conditions likely to produce persuasion. The research focused on three aspects of the persuasion process: the who, what, and whom.
The who was referred to as the communicator or source of the communication. An effective communicator displays credibility defined as trustworthiness and expertise. If the persuader can communicate from a point of view of disinterest, people are more likely to believe the message. Credibility is a two way street. Those who are perceived to be credible are more believable, and those who express position closely to our own are more credible. The attractiveness of the communicator is for some recipients the critical variable. We tend to accept positions of those we like. In turn attractiveness can be defined in physical terms and by likable personality traits. The style of the communicator is also important. When the communicator is direct, displays convincing emotion, and maintains eye contact, he is persuasive.

Reference groups promote or limit the persuasiveness of the communicator. People accept or at least lean toward messages that come from the groups with which they identify. Persuaders who come from accepted reference groups have less resistance to overcome, than speakers from outside the group. Whether the communicator will be effective, depends also on the recipient’s motivation. We tend to hold fast to our positions when we are motivated, and discrepant messages are rejected or the communicator denigrated. If the dissonance created is large, we pay less attention to the communicator, and look for all that might be unfair or unreasonable in the message. For those not greatly motivated by the issue, the attractiveness of the communicator is all-important.
The what of a communication refers to the message itself. Effective messages are logically presented, and must establish the relevance of the issue to the recipient. Since the communicator wants change, it is important that the message conveys a sense of personal responsibility. High quality messages allow the recipient to come to his/her own conclusions, often using humor and presenting counter arguments to the opposing side’s point of view. Some of the early research sought to examine primacy and recency effects in two sided communications. Which message had the greatest effect, that presented first, or the second message? Findings are complex, but nevertheless have important consequences for trial courts and political debates.

Fear is an important motivation leading to acceptance of the message and behavior change. However, fear is only effective to a point. If it becomes too intense, the anxiety aroused causes the individual to develop ego defenses and deny the message. It is useful to arouse fear in persuading people of the consequences of destructive health habits, but at the same time it is important to offer concrete advise on how to change. Emotional arousal is useful with the less educated, as the emotional approach emphasizes the liking qualities of the communicator. Likewise moods have been found to be important for some recipients. People will often make snap decisions when in a good mood. That may be one reason for president Reagan’s ability to get elected, as he supposedly elicited a happy mood in some voters.

If we want to persuade people to change, the message must be somewhat discrepant. If only a little discrepant, the communication will offer no urgency, if too much it will be seen as preposterous. Messages intermediate in discrepancy are most effective. Persuasion does not depend on the message alone. Persuaders seen as credible are able to persuade more discrepant positions.

People who think and have a need for cognition will be persuaded by high quality messages. Other recipients are, however, persuaded by characteristics of the communicator rather than the message. The communicator’s attractiveness becomes more important than the content of the message. Society and culture may also affect the acceptability of a message. Some cultures are individualistic, other societies display cooperative community based values. Effective messages are matched to the underlying cultural values.

Does repetition of the message aid acceptance? Under some conditions repetition increases familiarity and the processing of the message. However, repeated messages may also become tedious and annoying. The answer to the problem is to present the same message, but with varied presentation. Motivation to listen is an important factor in persuasion. Repetition and the length of the arguments may have utility for the uninformed whereas the logic and strength of the message is of greater significance for informed recipients. To motivate depends on our ability to match the message to the underlying functions of the attitude function. Some recipients also have a regulatory leaning that predisposes them to accept messages that either seeks to prevent negative outcomes, or encourage positive goals. Part of motivation is also the cognitive needs of recipients. For those with cognitively based attitudes, logical facts are more effective.

The various media to convey messages can be person to person, using television and vivid media, or in written form like posters. Written communications are only useful with motivated audiences. Simplistic repetition is more effective with the passive silent majority in our society. Some research has indicated, however, that personal influence is effective in both voting behavior, and in improving health habits. Perhaps all persuasion is personal. If we accept Katz’s two-process theory, persuasion goes from the media to opinion leaders, and from these to personal persuasion. Personal communication is in any event most effective, as are those communications, which by vividness communicate personal relevance of the issue.

Effective communication depends also on the audience, the whom. All people are persuaded within a latitude of acceptance. The personality, mood, age, and gender are all significant audience characteristics in communication. Some recipients of persuasive messages feel cognitively involved in the issue, others have no interest. Those who get pleasure from thinking, who have a need for cognition, are persuaded more by strong logical and fact based arguments. As we have noted, changing mood of the audience may also affect persuasion. The mood of fear generated in recent years affects leaders and followers alike, and makes persuasion of stringent security laws more likely. Charismatic leaders know how to manipulate the emotional needs of their followers. They have been able to create mass hysteria, suicide, and destruction on a worldwide scale. The importance of mood on the audience has been shown at more simplistic levels, such as the influence of music on persuasion. Effective communicators match the message to the mood of the audience.

Recipients vary in commitment to positions. Those who are strongly committed will employ dissonance reduction when confronted with discrepant messages. The strongly committed have a narrow range of acceptable discrepancy messages. The level of commitment is based on whether the attitude is learned second hand through the experiences of others, or if the position is based on personal events. Victims of bigotry have stronger commitments to tolerance than those who have only read about our history since tolerance is personally relevant. Again, effective messages have personal relevance. Involved people are not concerned with what others might think since they are focusing attention on the issue and the proposed change.

For the unmotivated, the attractiveness of the communicator affects a variety of behaviors, including persuasion of impulsive voting behavior. Many people lack the background to reflect on issues, and do not have the cognitive skills to evaluate decisions. The political manipulators in society understand these cognitive deficits, and are informed about voter likes and dislikes. If we want to see democracy work, we need to stimulate thinking to avoid the simple heuristic political behavior common to society in the western world. Other audience characteristics also affect persuasion. These include level of intelligence, self-esteem, and authoritarianism. These personality constructs affect whether recipients defer to status and authority.

Advertisement, the practice of persuasion, is central to modern capitalist societies. At times the media can serve the needs of society. Public announcement campaigns have been directed toward the reduction of substance abuse. Success has been observed in a number of studies in which children develop negative attitudes toward illegal drugs, tobacco, and alcohol abuse. At the same time, advertisement by tobacco companies in the US – those advertisements are no longer allowed in most European countries like Netherlands and Norway – has increased the rates of smoking among women. The effectiveness of tobacco ads depends on the skillful use of the desire for gender equality among women. Some tobacco ads persuade women that smoking demonstrates female equality. The reality is that lung cancer among women in the US is now approaching that of men.

While tobacco consumption has dramatically fallen in the western world, the purveyors of tobacco have opened new markets in Eastern Europe and Asia. Counter arguments can be employed with effectiveness against the tobacco advertisers, and those who cause other problems to health. Also forewarning our children of the seduction of glamorous advertisement has proven effective. Advertisement serves the process of distraction when healthy models smoke to divert attention away from the truly disastrous outcomes of habitual smoking.

Those interested in improving the health habits of society can help young people resist the lure of the advertiser by inoculation and support. A social network can help young people resist. Studies have also shown that the presentation of weak arguments in favor of smoking or other negative habits may encourage counter arguments. The weak arguments are a form of vaccination that inoculates individuals against future persuasion attempts. Role-playing employing the inoculation process has been successful in a number of studies.

Selling the consumer is the object of the billions of dollars spent on ads every year. The purpose is to get attention and establish product familiarity, and is an indirect way of encouraging consumption. Advertisers also use classical conditioning to associate the product with human happiness. As we know, happy moods persuade. Selling political candidates is for power. In the US system, the process is mainly about being elected and then reelected. Many people do not have the background to critically examine political ads. Political manipulators understand this, and they know something about the likes and dislikes in a population. These facts allow for political manipulation on a large scale, so we develop in the course of history the best democracy that money can buy. In close elections, money decides the outcome. The very negativity may discourage voters from participation. Subliminal influences can be a matter of concern, a form of manipulation that we cannot dismiss as the effect has been demonstrated in the laboratory.

The media creates the broad framework for culture and social behavior. Why do anorexic models have such an effect on young women? They are not healthy looking, and should be pitied for their lack of proper nutrition. Yet the media, both printed and television, have succeeded in making abnormal thinness glamorous and attractive. In a parallel way, the media has also succeeded in making smoking attractive to new addicts, who do not understand the long-term consequences of the habit. The mere frequency of news determines the importance of issues in society. Whether energy dependency is seen as significant, depends directly on how frequently it is mentioned in news broadcasts. The media sets the cultural agenda. Does it set limits on individual behavior? Some research showed that the presentation of negative gender stereotypes inhibited females in unrelated achievement.

Cultist persuasion has been a concern to society during the last century. Some cults have promoted suicide, and political cults like the Nazi’s wrought destruction on a worldwide scale. Cults get people to believe by making behavioral demands and encouraging followers to proselyte others. Charismatic leaders are especially effective in manipulating the emotional needs of their followers. The naive are likely to follow, as in this world of uncertainty many people have a desire for comprehensive solutions to life’s perplexing problems.

The chapter concludes with a discussion of theories of persuasion. Kelman proposed a theory of processes of persuasion. These included compliance, identification and internalization. In more recent times, we have observed the development of theories of persuasion routing. In the Elaboration Likelihood Model and the Heuristic-Systematic model, people take one of two routes depending on motivation and knowledge about the issue. The central route is taken when the recipient is motivated, and involves depth of thinking and reflection about the issue. The peripheral route is taken by the less motivated. In the peripheral route the recipient pays less attention to the message, and is persuaded more by the superficial framework of communication. What is the length and frequency of the argument, and how credible and attractive the communicator. The peripheral route is taken when people are uninformed, uneducated, tired, or distracted. Those interested in a better society and the health of the world must do what is possible to encourage central persuasion. Democracy and a positive future depend on the success of the effort.

Being Human. Chapter 9: Hostile Inter-Group Behavior: Prejudice, Stereotypes, And Discrimination

Prejudice is a common attitude in all cultures and societies. We only have to look at the headlines of a daily newspaper to see the dimensions of destructive behavior as a consequence of prejudice. Recent history has seen the liquidation of millions of people as these victims were dehumanized by prejudice allowing for their annihilation. In Europe we thought that after the massacre of the Second World War people would have learned the sad and terrible lessons of prejudice. However, since then we have seen the destructions of thousands of people in former Yugoslavia where Christians killed Muslims and vice versa.

Some group differences may be important, but most stereotypes underlying these killings are based on myths of no real consequence in truth. Religion rather than being the great unifier has provided the ideology for killing regardless of culture and society. In India and Pakistan, Hindus are pitted against Muslims. In Palestine those who identify with Jewish ancestral myths are pitted against those who believe in Muhammad. In Rwanda the ethnic Hutu’s are against the Tutsi’s. The list goes on and on, encompassing all societies.

The Vietnamese have reservations about the Chinese, the Chinese think ill of the Japanese. Can you think of any society which does not display negative feelings toward other ethnic or national groups? Do you remember the conflicts in East Timor, the continued struggle in Kashmir (Hindus versus Muslims), in Sri Lanka (Muslims versus Buddhist), the struggle in Northern Ireland within a single religion (Protestants versus Catholics), and Iraq (Shia versus Sunni)? All these examples demonstrate intergroup enmity as a prominent and decisive element of the human condition.

Within society, there is also prejudice. Many, if not most societies, display gender prejudice against females. Under China’s one child policy, more boys are born than girls. One result is the presence of many lonely men when the sexes grow into adulthood. In India parents seek to know the sex of a prospective child, and female fetuses are often aborted. Unequal salaries between the two genders continue for equal work in many societies. In the western world we also observe prejudice toward those who do not fit ideal body images. Fat people are viewed negatively, and unhealthy thin body forms are promoted as we have seen in chapter 3.

All minorities are subject to some prejudice. The US has is a long and distressing history of prejudice toward ethnic nationalities and minorities. The prejudice toward the native (Indian) population initially led to attempts to use them as slaves. When they proved unsuitable for that, native societies were largely destroyed and survivors placed in controlled reservations. The long and painful history of slavery in the US is known to all. This ended only with the civil war in 1865. The legislation which followed ensured that black people were kept segregated in inferior status and allowed for their continued exploitation. Only in the 1960s did the civil rights movement put an end to the worst visible forms of discrimination in our society. However, even today Black people continue to bear the consequences of a prejudicial society. Poverty, poor housing, disease, and crime continue to afflict those who live in America’s racial ghettos. Similar results of prejudice can be found in other nations which also have produced divided and segregated communities.

The presence of prejudice can also be observed in the many derogatory terms used against nationalities in the US. Hispanics are called spics, greasers, or wetbacks; Asians are described with words like slants, slopes, chinks, or japs; Blacks are called niggers, coons, jigaboos, or jungle bunnies; Germans are stereotyped as krauts, and Italians, as wops or dagoes. During the war on Vietnam, the Vietnamese were called gooks by the American soldiers. These terms are all pejorative words used to denigrate the human value of these national groups. Together these words serve the cause of prejudice by increasing social distance between groups and thereby allowing for the brutalities. Every society can find similar prejudice toward their ethnic and social minority groups.

Not only minority groups are targeted, the dominant groups are also subject to prejudicial distortion. Prejudice is indeed a two way street, where any group can be subject to common ignorance. Today the US is still dominant in the world. However, Americans are also subject to prejudice (Campbell, 1967). Americans are seen by the British to be pushy and excessively patriotic. Some of these stereotypic views are very resistant to change, as certain views have been present for several centuries (Schama, 2003). The prevalence of prejudice suggests that it is part of the human condition. Is that true? If true, we could do little to change the conditions of hostility in the world. As we shall see, prejudice is complex, but is largely learned and can therefore be unlearned.

With the complexity of human behavior, we are not likely to find any one theory or set of principles that can explain all causes of prejudice. Why is it present in every society? What can be done to ameliorate the effects of intergroup hostility? These are questions that will be addressed in this chapter. As we noted, prejudice is an attitude. Elsewhere we have noted that attitudes have affective, cognitive, and behavioral components. Larsen (1971a) demonstrated the importance of both the affective and cognitive components in making social judgments. These three components are also found in prejudicial attitudes. We call the affective component prejudice, the cognitive component which sustains the attitude is a stereotype, and the behavioral component is discrimination manifested toward the target group. Often the three components are just referred to in the social psychological literature by the inclusive term “prejudice”.

1. Prejudicial attitudes: The affective component
In the context of prejudicial attitudes, the term prejudice connotes negative affect toward the target group. It is true that one can favor a group and therefore have positive affect toward it, but in social psychology, prejudice is referred to as a negative phenomenon. When we say someone is prejudiced, this person has negative attitudes toward some group as a class of people. In practice this means that the prejudiced person pays little or no attention to individual traits or variations within the group, but describes all members as having similar undesirable characteristics. A person prejudiced toward blacks ascribes negative traits to the entire race, and will dismiss individual personality traits as unimportant. In the presence of a targeted group, a prejudiced person will feel negative, and dislike the group as a whole. Negative feelings are not always expressed, as with changing social norms people may try to hide their true feelings.

2. Stereotypes: the cognitive component
All attitudes have a supporting cognitive structure. In the case of prejudicial attitudes, we call these stereotypes. We have schemas of other groups which are based on our selective experiences in society. In the past black people were shown in American movies and other media in subordinate positions as servants or doing menial work. Our stereotype of black people is therefore less than flattering, and many think that being uneducated is the natural condition of black people.

Once incorporated, stereotypes are very resistant to change. Contradictory information is dismissed as the exception which proves the rule. When confronted with an educated black person, we split our prejudice into a new subset of the “educated” black. We continue to harbor our negative stereotype as the subset allows us to deal with exceptions. Some Nazi’s created a subset of “good Jews”, which allowed them to continue to support the German government and endorse the holocaust. When we stereotype, we simplify the world. It helps us process information before any interaction occurs. When we meet a black person, we do not have to know the person since our stereotypes will prepare our responses.

Stereotypes are primarily cognitive in function, allow for more efficient decision-making, and shorten our response time. Cognition that follows uses mental shortcuts or simple heuristics (see also chapters 4 and 8), that Black people are “lazy”. When using simple heuristics or similar stereotypes we need a minimum effort when confronted with representatives of the target group (Fiske & Depret, 1996; Jones, 1990). Stereotypes can be personality traits which describe unfavorable qualities of members of the other group. Black people are perceived to be ignorant, and so forth. Stereotypes can also take the form of attributions. If blacks are poor, it is because of personal dispositions like black people lacking a work ethic. We attribute motivations to many victims of stereotypes, explaining their poverty or ill health in terms that fit our conception of living in a just world: “People get what they deserve”.

2.1 The harmful effects of stereotypes
Recent research has demonstrated the harmful effects of stereotypes on the target group. The phenomenon of the self-fulfilling prophecy shows that when prejudiced people behave consistent to a stereotype and convey their expectations, the victims come to believe in the stereotype and act consistent with the expectation. The stereotype elicits behavior which confirms the stereotype for both the victim and the perpetrator. The stereotype that black people are lazy and unreliable may cause employers to be unwilling to offer employment. Unemployment in turn causes hopelessness in the black person, the belief there are no jobs, and subsequently the need to rely on welfare. The welfare dependency cycle is completed when white people act on their stereotypes, thereby reinforcing the expected behavior.

Research shows that victimized groups embrace stereotypes and often fulfill the predicted behavior (Snyder & Swann, 1978; Swim & Stangor, 1998). The self-fulfilling prophecy has been demonstrated in varying circumstances. It is a common stereotype to believe that people’s memory deteriorates with age. Many elderly believe it is true (Levy & Langer, 1994). Since this is a common belief in our society, many people act with that prejudice toward the elderly. Many jokes are made about “senile moments”, and the elderly comply with developing the expected memory loss.

Minority self-awareness is painful when living in a prejudicial society. Targets of prejudice are frequently aware of the stereotypes describing one’s group. Self-awareness causes apprehension when the minority person is confronted with a task related to the stereotype. White males competing with Asian males in mathematics do so knowing the common stereotype that Asians are wizards in math. Likewise females are aware of the common perceptions that they are inferior to males in mathematics. The stereotype offers therefore a plausible explanation for poor performance. This is today called stereotype threat, or stereotypic threat.

When victims of stereotypes feel under scrutiny or threat, the stereotype produces poor performance. Even females who are high achievers display lower performance when they are made aware of the common stereotype (Spencer, Steele, & Quinn, 1999). Stereotypes are by their very prevalence in society difficult to ignore, and the consequences are very real. The stereotype about racial differences in athleticism favoring blacks has similar consequences for white students. In one study white students were led to believe they were participating in a study on native athletic ability. Since the stereotype of white students is generally one of having less native athletic ability, whites also made less of an effort. They accepted the limits imposed by the stereotype (Stone, 2002). In one intriguing study of Asian women’s mathematical ability, the stereotype about racial differences had positive consequences when their racial identity was made salient. However, when the female gender identity was emphasized they did poorly (Shih, Pittinsky, & Ambady, 1999). There are many who believe the result of stereotypic threat is long term, and may even produce negative physiological reactions commonly associated with stress (Blascovich, Spencer, Quinn, & Steele, 2001).

2.2 Common stereotypes ignore overlap and individual differences
Some stereotypes seem harmless. As noted it is a common stereotype in America that black people are athletic, and this is the reason why some sports are dominated by blacks. Since there are many positives associated with athletics are there any negative consequences? The main negative result is that the stereotype ignores the overlap in abilities between the racial groups, and individual differences (Stone, Perry, & Darley, 1997). Although it is true that blacks dominate some sports like basketball, it is also true that there are many great white players, and indeed players from any race. The stereotype is not fair to any group, because it assumes that black students should concentrate on sports, and the athletically gifted white student should choose academics. The stereotype limits the potential of all groups.

Gender stereotypes also limit the potential of both males and females. There are acknowledged biological differences between the sexes, and most of us are grateful for these complementary traits. Some traits evolved from the evolutionary need to specialize tasks during the course of the development of the human species. Women have the assignment by nature to bear children. Those who are good mothers help their gene pool to continue, as their offspring has a greater likelihood of surviving (Buss & Kendrick, 1998). These powerful biological causes may have produced greater nurturing in females, and contributed to the stereotype of female nurturing behavior.

In all cultures, females are accepted as more nurturant and passive (Deaux & La France, 1998). Research supports the presence of common perceptions of females as more socially adapt, more friendly, and more supportive. Men, on the other hand, are typically seen as more dominating and controlling (Eagly, 1994; Swim, 1994). The problem with stereotypes is that they limit both male and female behavior. There are indeed fathers who are very nurturant and supportive of their children, and some mothers who abuse their children. Common experience shows that there is an overlap in behavior between the two genders and room for individual differences. Still overall the gender differences in nurturing remain and are consistent (Eagly, 1996).

2.3 Stereotypes and discrimination
The effects of stereotypes go far beyond perceptions. They can and do affect female opportunity for employment, and her subsequent work related evaluations and success. Participants in one study evaluated a highly competent female physician. Male participants perceived her as less competent, and as having had an easy time becoming successful when compared to a male physician (Feldman-Summers & Kiesler, 1974). The female participants were more egalitarian and perceived that male and female physicians were equally competent, but that there was less obstruction for males to overcome. More recently similar results were obtained (Swim & Sanna, 1996). When men are successful people attribute this to native ability, whereas females are seen to rely on hard work. When men fail, it is considered bad luck or because they did not make sufficient effort. Failure for females is perceived to reflect lack of native ability, and therefore impacts negatively on self-esteem.

Victims of stereotypes come to accept the common beliefs. Socialization by parents, school, and society, passes on the common stereotypes about gender. In one study, mothers who had stereotypic beliefs about gender differences in math produced daughters who had the same mind set, and who subsequently performed poorly on math tests (Jacobs & Eccles, 1992). The mother’s acceptance of the negative math stereotype served as the self-fulfilling prophecy we discussed earlier.

Merton (1957) first used the term “self-fulfilling prophecy” to describe that the way we act toward the stereotypic target may encourage the behavior we expect. If we think blacks are hostile we may approach them with anxiety or weariness. To these restrained responses, blacks may understandably behave with their own distance and hostility. In a study on job interviews (Wood, Zanna, & Cooper, 1974) the experimenters noted that the white interviewers treated black and white applicants differently. When the applicant was black, the white interviewer increased the physical distance, and finished the interview earlier when compared to white applicant interviews. The interviews were rated, and collaborators trained to interview a new group of white applicants the way the black applicants were interviewed. When the white applicants were treated the same way as the black applicants were in the first phase, the white applicants were also evaluated negatively. The physical distance and indifference produced the same behavior in white applicants as in black applicants. The self-fulfilling prophecy suggests that through our expectations we elicit and reinforce the stereotypic consistent behavior.

More serious consequences result when the prejudiced person is required to make quick judgments about the target group under stress conditions. One common stereotype is the presence of a large criminal element in the black community, and the proneness to violence among black men. If you were a white police officer would that stereotype affect your behavior when making an arrest? One experiment studied the effect of the black criminal stereotype on reaction time in video game shooting. The participants were presented with symbolic representatives of both black and white stimulus persons, and told to shoot those who were armed. The results showed shorter reaction time toward the black person holding a gun, than a similar white target (Corell, Park, Judd, & Wittenbrink, 2002). The reaction time was consistent with the stereotype, and could have serious consequences for young black men who might appear threatening to arresting officers.

2.4 Functions of stereotypes
We categorize people according to the common beliefs in society. Stereotypes are communicated and socialized through the media, traditions, and our educational system. Stereotypes do not allow for the evaluation of the individual, but attribute to the entire group what we think are common characteristics. Stereotypes help make the world more simple, otherwise we would have to stretch our minds when trying to understand the targeted individual. It is the lazy man’s response to the bewildering array of information presented by many different representatives of the same group. Consequently, stereotyping requires the least or minimal effort (Allport, 1954). It is similar to the heuristics rule of thumb discussed earlier in the chapter on cognition.

Is there some truth to stereotypes? A grain of truth is present in stereotypes, but they are generalizations which do not take into account individual variations. Also stereotypes do not allow for an evaluation of the history that brought about the “grain of truth”. Perhaps some females do poorly on math tests when compared to males, but there are historical explanations which are unrelated to native ability or intelligence. Yes, there is more crime in black neighborhoods, but there is also more poverty. There is some truth, but the stereotypes do not offer explanations. They serve only to simplify judgment and decision-making. Stereotypes overemphasize negative or positive traits, and underestimate the variability which is present in all social groups (Fiske, 1998).

3. Discrimination
The third component of any attitude refers to behavioral consequences. These have also been referred to above, as it is difficult to separate the components of attitudes. Now we focus directly on the discrimination suffered by the victims of prejudice. Discrimination proceeds from the very common ethnocentric assumption that the groups to which we belong are better on some criteria than out-groups. We shall discuss the in-group-out-group phenomena in a review of the minimal group research. More broadly, these feelings are described as ethnocentrism, the belief that our school, church, religion, and nation are superior to all others. The most extreme example of ethnocentrism was found in the Nazi campaign to promote subhuman stereotypes of all socially undesirable groups

The world presents a history of discriminatory behavior. During the Second World War the American government sent 120,000 Japanese Americans to camps, purely on racial grounds. No individual review was performed and all were treated alike. Yet there was no reason to suspect that these Americans were a threat to the nation. In the McCarthyite period that followed the war, thousands of Americans lost employment and were otherwise persecuted purely for reasons of their political beliefs or for associating with unpopular groups. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had particular assignments to follow and intimidated political dissidents, a pattern which continues till this day. This is the historical legend of the US. More recently Pettigrew (1998) has reviewed the substantial body of research on prejudice against and discrimination toward new immigrant minorities of Western Europe.

The in-group-out-group distinction applies equally to all groups. In one study white and black participants evaluated applicants for employment, and made some attribution why the person had been fired or lost their previous job. White participants made more favorable evaluations and attributions of white applicants, and blacks held similar views on black applicants (Chatman & von Hippel, 2001). This discriminatory assessment has been found for other groups as well (Munro & Ditto, 1997). Even the mere innocent exposure to a stereotypic target can bring negative evaluations. Just sitting next to an obese woman produces negative evaluations of applicants for jobs (Hebl & Mannix, 2003). Stereotypes have survival implications for those in the targeted group, and those with whom they associate.

Discrimination occurs because society gives permission. Many societies tolerate sexist humor, because while funny, it also puts women in their place. Do funny sexist jokes have other consequences? Some suggest that funny sexist jokes put the mind at ease, and therefore prepare the way for discrimination. Much discrimination is disguised as norms about gender and race. These norms have changed drastically over the past three or four decades. Resulting ambiguity can make a targeted person feel unsure if rejection is discrimination or the consequences of some personal failure. When we know that negative decisions are the result of discrimination, we can accept that for what it is, and it does not impact our self-esteem (Crocker, Major, & Steele, 1998). However, in many cases, discrimination is not so clear-cut. When a person is not retained or promoted, self-doubt may exist since the perpetrator usually covers his tracks with elaborate rationalizations. In his study Van Beek (1993) showed that lower skilled unemployed job-seekers on the Dutch labor market are primarily selected by employers on the basis of characteristics that they cannot influence themselves, like age, gender and ethnic background.

Racial discrimination is all too real in our society. The treatment of psychiatric patients was influenced by race in one study (Bond, Di Candia, & McKinnon, 1988). The hospital used two methods of restraining the patient’s violent behavior. One easy way separated the patient in a room whereas the other harsher method used straitjackets or drugs to tranquilize the patient. In examining the records of the all white staffed hospital results showed that the straitjacket and drugs were used four times more frequently on black patients than whites. This discriminatory treatment was used despite any difference in violent behavior between white and black patients. It seems clear that the white staff had a stereotype of black violence, which translated into a harsher reaction to any problems by black patients.

If you are a member of a minority group, the results can be very negative in areas of great importance to you and your family. In one study Larsen (1977b) investigated discrimination against Aborigines in Australia. Three areas important to the daily life of Aborigines were access to jobs, housing, and equal treatment in restaurants and public service venues. The method of the study involved sending out a white stimulus person to ask for the positions and services thereby knowing the availability. Subsequently an Aboriginal person of same age, dress, and gender was sent to the same location within a short time interval. The results were truly astounding. Most establishments refused to consider employment for Aborigines, or renting housing facilities. Even in public bars the service was discriminatory as Aborigines found themselves ignored by waiters, or delayed in getting service. The study got the attention of the Australian parliament which debated the merits of the civil rights legislation which at that time contained few sanctions for discriminatory behavior.

Other social groups such as sexual minorities have also been subject to discriminatory actions, and are usually not protected by any legislation. Some research has shown that visible individuals from these groups are treated as pariahs in job application procedures (Hebl, Foster, Mannix, & Dovidio, 2002). Although society has experienced many changes with respect to sexual norms, discrimination continues to affect the daily lives of many.

4. Changing social norms
We live in a world that has experienced massive migration over the past decades. More and more people have met representatives from other races and ethnic groups. Contact by itself does not improve intergroup prejudice, but may remove some of the most extreme stereotypes. In the southern part of the US, a great amount of contact occurred between slaves and slave owners, but this did not improve the attitudes of the white owners. On the contrary, contact reinforced bigoted attitudes about the natural place of blacks in society, and the natural born rights to own and exploit human beings. Part of racist ideology was the belief that blacks were not fully human, and in census taking they represented but a fraction of whites. On the surface racial bigotry has plummeted since the 1950s when support for segregation was high (Hyman & Sheatsley, 1956).

The devastating effects of racial norms could be observed in the preference of little black girls for white dolls. The implication was clear, white was better (Clark & Clark, 1949). The negative impact of racist norms on the self-esteem of black people encouraged change, as did the “black is beautiful” movement. A later study showed that black children increasingly preferred black dolls, and there was an acceptance in the black community that there were no important native differences between blacks and whites (Jackman & Senter, 1981).

4.1 Gender stereotypes
Beliefs about gender are deeply rooted in biology, history, and culture. It should not surprise us that gender stereotypes are still with us, and are resistant to change. There are those who would argue that gender based beliefs are stronger than racial stereotypes (Jackman & Senter, 1981). Males often view themselves stereotypically as more dominant and assertive, whereas females see themselves as more compassionate (Martin, 1987). Both genders accept the prevailing stereotypes.

However, gender based attitudes are also rapidly changing. From the common accepted position of women as homemakers, attitudes now reflect the modern reality of women in the work place (Astin, 1991). The self-depreciation that was part of women’s psyche in the mid century had largely faded by the 1980’s (Swim, Borgidia, Maruyama, & Myers, 1989).

4.2 Prejudice in intimate relationships?
The concept of social cost is defined by the approval or disapproval by significant others for interaction with targeted groups. People are aware of and sensitive to social costs, and it affects hostile and aggressive behavior (Larsen, Martin, Ettinger & Nelson,1976). Disapproval (or social costs) from significant others is greatest for intimate relationships like marriage. Larsen (1974e) and Larsen, Ommundsen, & Larsen (1978) investigated the relative importance of social costs, dogmatism, and race, and found social costs to be the most significant variable affecting relationships in Norway as well as the US. They used the Bogardus Scale which was essentially a scale of decreasing intimacy ranging from choosing the targeted person for marriage to wanting to exclude members of various ethnic groups from the nation. You might not mind an immigrant coming into your country, you might even condone working with immigrants, and having them participate in social life. However, you might also demand your daughters to marry someone from your own ethnic group. In the most intimate relations, racism is alive and well, and present in nearly all cultures and societies (Sharma, 1981). Intimate relations contain the greatest potential social costs, as most people conform when disapproved by our closest significant others, our parents and our family. Some twenty years ago fifty seven percent of white US respondents would be unhappy if their children married a black person (Life, 1988). The trend is away from these remaining barriers, but it is interesting that intimate relationships are the last remaining barrier to full equality. For example students at the end of college felt more pressure not to date members of other racial and ethnic groups (Levin, Taylor & Caudle, 2007).

4.3 Subtle bias in racial and gender relationships
Changes in social norms have changed racial and gender stereotypes, it is no longer profitable to be a bigot. There was a time in America, from the colonial times to the 1960’s, when you could not be elected to even the lowest office unless you displayed bigoted attitudes. Now there are laws and an emerging social consensus that discourages blatant display of prejudice. Perhaps this is just another way of saying that most people are conforming to new social expectations. They want to avoid punishment or gain the approval of society as contained in the social cost concept. However, conformity is surface behavior. A person may continue to harbor negative feelings and stereotypes underneath the conforming behavior.

Subtle racism, or prejudicial gender attitudes, can be determined by the bogus pipe line method where the participant believes that the experimenter can read the person’s true attitudes by the use of a sensitive “lie detector” test (Jones & Sigall, 1971). The participants in the study were assigned to either a traditional survey method of attitudes, or the bogus pipeline where they were instructed that the machine could detect if they lied. Knowing that they would be found out, participants showed more prejudice in the pipeline condition.

Similar results were found for gender-based attitudes. On surveys men and women had very similar attitudes on gender related issues. When using the pipeline method, men showed considerably less sympathy for the cause of gender equality (Tourangeau, Smith, Rasinski, 1997). However, even in using traditional methods of surveys, we can still observe subtle racism and prejudicial gender attitudes (Swim, Aikin, Hunter, & Hall, 1991).

In this “modern” form of prejudice, bigoted people are just more careful in expressing their views. No one wants to be labeled a racist as today it can have negative consequences and connotations. At the same time, when the racist is in comfortable company, these prejudicial views are expressed. Subtle prejudice is a whole new arena for social psychologists to study and to try to understand the remaining intergroup hostility (Dovidio & Gaertner, 1996; Pettigrew & Mertens, 1995).

An important tool in achieving racial equality in education is the use of busing students from racially segregated communities to racially integrated schools. Some studies have shown that most white parents accept the busing of their children from one white institution to another, but object vigorously when the educational system uses busing for interracial integration.

Perhaps old-fashioned racism is on the wane in the United States and Europe reflecting normative changes and conformity. Race relations remain hostile however, but are expressed in more carefully and subtle forms (Kinder & Sears, 1981; McCanahay, 1986; Haddock, Zanna, & Esses, 1993; Swim, Aiken, Hall, & Hunter, 1995). Modern racism rejects past beliefs in the racial inferiority of blacks, and other outmoded stereotypes. These outdated views are supplanted by more modern beliefs which sustain prejudice. Some contend in self-righteous anger that blacks through affirmative action are undermining self-reliance and fundamental family values. Modern racism depends heavily on dispositional affirmation where racists see minority disadvantages as caused by personal inadequacy and not by situations of poverty and discrimination. The disproportionate share of welfare assistance to blacks, and the crime rates in black ghettos, are viewed as the consequence of personal inadequacy, and not brought on by unending discrimination. So on the surface of life racial norms have changed since many bigots reject blatant racism, yet embrace subtle racist beliefs. It is an irony that egalitarian values can coexist with prejudice toward minorities (Gaertner & Divido, 1986). This apparent contradiction occurs because of the beliefs that unequal treatment has dispositional causes. The cause of unemployment among black people is attributed to black people being uneducated or lazy. Since racists generally benefit from the status quo in society, it should not surprise us that they favor the dominance of the in-group (Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). Modern racists will operate within the norms of our changing society, but will not help in improving the lot of minorities, and depending on the specific situation, may hinder attempts to improve intergroup relations.

Several studies have demonstrated the functions of modern racism. In one study, participants were led to believe that they were the only ones able to help a black victim. In that situation, they came to assist the black victim slightly more times than a white victim. However, when the participants thought others could help the black victim, their implicit racism dominated. (Gaertner & Dovido, 1977). In that condition, they assisted a black victim less frequently than a white victim (38 % versus 75 %).

Another study viewed the implications for employment. Prejudiced and unprejudiced participants rated black and white applicants for employment the same, when they had the similar credentials on all pertinent variables. However, when one applicant had variable qualifications, so they excelled on some but not other characteristics, prejudiced participants rated black applicants less favorably (Hodson, Dovido, & Gaertner, 2002). The varied credentials allowed the prejudiced person to favor some credentials and not others, but always at the expense of the black applicant. The variable credentials supplied the cover which allowed the prejudiced person to rationalize his racism. Under conditions of variable credentials the bigot can pick and chose what is important, and make biased judgments without offending his self-perception as a fair person.

At the beginning of the chapter, we mentioned examples of intergroup hostility from various regions of the world. The history of the world is one of continuous warfare fed by stereotypes and prejudice toward supposed enemies. Norms may change, and the most blatant forms of discrimination cease. However, an underlying reservoir of hostility may remain to be tapped at a time of future conflict. Research on prejudice in Europe shows similar patterns to those of the United States. Subtle forms of prejudice also exist in Europe, as it too has experienced changing norms over the past few decades (Pettigrew, 1998; Pettigrew, Jackson, Brika, Lemaine, Meertens, Wagner, & Zick, 1998).

In a world where illegal immigration is becoming an increasingly controversial issue (Van der Veer, Ommundsen, Larsen, Van Le, Krumov, Pernice, Pastor Romans, 2004; Ommundsen, Van der Veer, Van Le, Krumov, & Larsen, 2006) it should come as no surprise that we see examples of both subtle and blatant forms of prejudice (Meertens & Pettigrew, 1997; Pettigrew & Meertens, 1995. These studies included both measures of blatant and subtle prejudice. In one study, those who scored high on blatant prejudice wanted to send the illegal immigrants home. Those who scored low on both scales wanted to improve the lives of the immigrants, and had a tolerant outlook toward them as their fellow human beings. Those who scored high on subtle prejudice did not approve of sending the immigrants home, but on the other hand did not want to do anything to help or improve their lives (Pettigrew, 1998). Subtle prejudice may therefore have an effect through crimes of omission rather than commission, through acts of indifference rather than overt acts of discrimination. In either event, the outcome is negative for the targeted group.

Modern forms of racism may be even more potent than blatant prejudice. The underlying attitudes can by rationalized by well-established values such as social equality. Why should affirmative action benefit racial minorities and women? Many whites object, not on racial grounds, but because they see affirmative action as “unfair” discrimination toward poor whites and other groups, and insulting to values of equal treatment (Tarman & Sears, 2005; Sears & Henry, 2003). Whether it is called modern racism (McConahay, 1986) or racial resentment (Kinders & Sanders, 1996), a reserve of ill will continues to be directed toward minority groups. Many whites have negative feelings toward ethnic minorities, and what they consider demands for special treatment. Modern racists view for example blacks as lazy, and believe they violate American values of thrift and hard work.

There are researchers who believe that racial attitudes have been replaced by concerns over issues of merit, and the value of color-blind equality (Sniderman, Crosby, & Howell, 2000). These assertions are modern forms of racist ideology, and provide the justification for continued racial inequality. Racism can be observed in the modern racist’s opposition to black leaders and against affirmative action (Sears, Van Laar, Carrillo, & Kosterman, 1997). Is racial prejudice just an issue of past history? Most of the evidence would not support that perspective.

In the case of gender prejudice the norms have also changed. Are there still more subtle forms of gender bias in society? By choosing which traits we consider important in females, we can still observe subtle but powerful effects on gender equality. Many men have ambivalent attitudes toward women. Ambivalence can be expressed by saying that women are less competent and intelligent than men, but they are more kind and warm human beings and have greater interpersonal skills. Glick and Fiske (2001) studied ambivalent sexism in a study of 15,000 men and women in 19 countries. They found support for the presence of a chivalrous sexism which included positive and protective attitudes toward women who occupied traditional gender roles of wife and mother. At the same time, the men manifested hostile sexism toward those women who were seen as usurping traditional male power. These ambivalent attitudes are particularly difficult to change, since there is ample rationalization for the prejudiced man to claim he has “positive” attitudes toward women, and wants to protect them. The chivalry allows the sexist person to deny feelings of hostility, but still prevents gender equality. Whether sexist or racist, the ambivalent person supports the status quo by favoring those blacks and females who occupy the traditional roles of servant, and treating those who deviate from that image with hostility.

Many today deny that prejudice still exists toward women. Some men feel resentment toward the demands that women make. In a competitive society; men perceive that they are losing out by the advancement of women (Swim, Aiken, Hall, & Hunter, 1995). The feeling of unfairness fuels active opposition to affirmative action for females.

4.4 Subtle measures of authentic attitudes
How can we measure a person’s authentic attitudes toward minorities? In the “bogus pipeline” study mentioned above, subjects were led to believe that a lie detector would reveal when they were lying. Consequently participants admitted to much higher rates of racism (Jones & Sigall, 1971). Another technique is called the Implicit Association Test (IAT). This test aims at uncovering prejudice among those who claim to be unbiased. The measure is based on reaction time to visual stimuli (Greenwald & Banaji, 1995). A series of pictures and words are presented on a computer screen (e.g., black faces and negative traits or white faces and positive words). The participant is asked to press a key with either the right or left hand depending on whether the stimuli conform to one or another rule. The basic argument is that reaction time will be shorter when the picture and words are consistent in the participant’s mind. If the black face is followed by positive words, the prejudiced person may hesitate, and this hesitation can be a measure of unconscious prejudice. To put it another way, unconscious prejudice toward black people can be assessed by the difference in reaction time between black faces with positive words and black faces with negative words. If there is no prejudice present, there should be no need to evaluate the positive words and reaction time would be the same. Out of the million responses to the Web version of the IAT, about two thirds of the white participants show prejudice (Nosek, Banaji, & Greenwald, 2002).

In other studies using priming methods employing pictures of a minority person followed by words that belong or do not belong, reaction time is used to assess prejudice. Many people deny the presence of prejudice, but nevertheless show reaction times that indicate the presence of these attitudes (Bessenoff & Sherman, 2000; Dovido, Kawakami, & Gaertner, 2002; Fazio & Hilden, 2001). The more blatant aspects of discrimination and prejudice have been removed from people’s lives as a result of changing norms. Nevertheless, people have maintained many prejudicial attitudes even if they do not dare to show these openly. There is still much ill will in the world, and much must be done to create societies free from prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination. To work on these issues we must understand how we come about developing prejudice.

5. Causes of prejudice
This section examines the major ideas which explain prejudice. Some researchers emphasize the importance of early learning. Social inequality motivates prejudicial behavior, and rationalizes prejudice. Realistic group conflict weighs the importance of competition in a world of scarce resources. Many people are frustrated, and take out their anger on minorities as described by scapegoating theory. Group categorization theory research shows that in competitive societies even trivial groups produce in-group bias. Social dominance theory describes our world as a hierarchy of winners and losers. Those dominant fear loss of status and real advantage in the struggle for equality. In social conformity theory, prejudice is an outcome of the desire to get along in communities with prejudicial norms. Social institutions lend support through the mechanism of segregation in access to education as for example in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries. In western societies there are jobs considered unsuitable for women like being CEO’s of large companies. Personality dynamics points to the authoritarian personality and belief incongruence as instrumental in producing prejudice. Social cost is an integrating variable underlying personality dynamics and conformity.

5.1 Theories of learning: The socialization of prejudicial attitudes
None of us are born with prejudicial attitudes. Prejudiced attitudes are formed through socialization at the home, in school, in the community, and through culture. This is an optimistic statement, because what can be learned can also be unlearned. Learning theories are essential concepts in understanding how some people become bigots and others are tolerant. If a child grows up in a home where the parents are prejudiced, the child may socialize these attitudes by simple imitation. Social learning theory describes how children learn concepts and attitudes by watching the behavior of significant others. If a father or mother uses pejorative words in describing racial groups, then the child will be influenced and accept this version of reality. Likewise teachers and other significant people are powerful role models for children who lack the critical faculties with which to question prejudice.

The community also plays a powerful role in shaping behavior. Many people are prejudiced just from a desire to get along in a prejudicial community. In the United States the South was the traditional repository of prejudice and bigotry. Prior to the civil rights movement in the 1960s, a person was in danger of ostracism or worse if he expressed tolerant attitudes toward black people. Prejudice was functional to obtaining social rewards and avoiding disapproval. As we have seen, this blatant attitude has been in retreat for some decades. However, the more subtle forms of prejudice may still be reinforced by norms in the community. Since the community cannot reject for example black people as a category they can do so indirectly. Noting the unemployment, crime, and prevalence of AIDS among black people in the US, and attributing these to dispositional (personal) causes, is a key ideology of current bigots.

Reinforcement theory is a learning theory which asserts that behaviors followed by reinforcement are strengthened and will therefore be expressed on future occasions. The values of parents and the community play a role of reinforcing even subtle attitudes. Classical conditioning theory also plays a role, as we may come to associate positive or negative concepts with gender or race.

5.2 Early learning of prejudice
Normative prejudice is learned very early in life. As early as 4 or 5 children begin to discriminate between racial groups, and understand the dominant community norms with respect to race. Some groups may not be salient for some children, as racial, ethnic or national minorities are often segregated. However, by age 7 children are generally aware of the dominant norms in regard to all major groups (Aboud, 1988). The reason early socialization in prejudice is so important is that once learned prejudicial attitudes are not easily changed (Sears & Levy, 2003). Prejudice serve selective perception, traits which conform with the stereotype are remembered, the rest discarded. The power of early socialization was shown in the study by Miller and Sears (1986). The norms where the child grew up have more powerful effects in later adulthood than other and later experiences like adult occupations or regional attitudes. Freud said “the child is the father of the man”. By that he emphasized the all powerful effects of early childhood experiences. The literature on prejudice tends to confirm this viewpoint. As the child grows up he is reinforced by the community for expressing the accepted prejudicial attitudes. For the most part this occurs at low levels of awareness and reflection.

5.3 The media and social learning
The media provides a forum for the social learning of prejudicial attitudes. Many who grew up in the United States would remember the old Andy and Amos show which utilized black actors in very stereotypic happy-go-lucky terms. Minorities are often described in old movies in unflattering ways as servants or in doing other menial work. Although these stereotypes have changed in recent decades other problems remain. The lack of visibility of a targeted group supports ambivalent attitudes. If children and adults do not see positive role models of gender or race, it is easy to rely on subtle prejudice.

The appearance of minorities in the media is largely stereotypic. The New Yorker is known for its cartoons reflecting on society. Thibodeau’s (1989) study showed that less than 1 percent of the cartoon characters were black, and these were most often described in stereotypic roles such as doing menial work. Another study of television in 2003 showed that although the Latin population is now about 13 percent of the American population, only 4 percent of television characters were Latin (Hoffman & Noriega, 2004). Other researchers have shown that minorities are repeatedly depicted in unflattering terms on television shows, as being linked to crime (Pachon & Valencia, 1999); or taking advantage of society through welfare (Gilens, 1999). Is this stereotypic depiction in the media one reason that welfare funding is under attack? Do many whites think that undeserving blacks take unfair advantage of social support? The media rarely covers poor whites on welfare. Is the media supporting a stereotype of blacks as lazy and therefore undeserving? The media is a forum for social learning reflecting common social stereotypes and norms. After all script writers must get their ideas from somewhere, and look to their own attitudes and those prevalent in the community to describe social reality. The presence of stereotypes in the media can therefore be thought of as a subtle measure of prejudicial social norms.

5.4 Social inequality and prejudice
We live in a world of real or imagined scarce resources. In many places people lack sufficient resources in the struggle for survival. Competing groups may encroach on territory deemed essential to sustain life, as in the control of water or productive agricultural land. In other cases the scarcity is created by advertisement in modern capitalist societies. Many of the goods that people yearn for are based on desires that are manufactured in advertisement. How many people really need electric toothbrushes, or expensive perfumes? In capitalist society, envy is created by the lack of equality in consumption. Inequality in consumption led to the revolution of rising expectations which many felt caused the riots in black communities in the 1960s. The deprived in society have a unique window on what they are missing from television and modern communication. When desire is provided equally through advertisement, but consumption unequally, there is dissatisfaction and potential conflict. In social inequality we see the seeds of intergroup hostility.

5.5 Rationalizing social inequality
Life is a struggle over scarce resources. In that struggle some nations win out in the battle for improved standards of living, others fall behind, relatively speaking. Within a country, similar patterns of winning and losing are played out between social classes. Some people and classes are able to control and concentrate wealth, whereas others are struggling just to survive. Prejudice is one way to rationalize social inequality. The exploitation of slaves was justified on biblical grounds and as “the white man’s burden”. From that point of view, slaves were better off being confined, and white people did the slaves from Africa a favor by enslaving them. Likewise the building of empires was supported by prejudicial attitudes (Allport, 1954). The colonized people were seen as inferior, and colonization an altruistic act that brought civilization and improved the lives of the native population. The stereotypes we have of gender and race help justify discrimination. If women are paid less for equivalent work, it is because they do not work as hard, and they have their minds on the domestic scene.

Dehumanization and pejorative stereotypes follow discriminatory behavior. In extreme those who torture develop contemptuous attitudes toward their victims with the participants unable to discern any humanizing traits. By shocking or torturing, the perpetrators depersonalize victims and justify their behavior. The acceptance of waterboarding by the current US administration is due to the dehumanization of enemies as evil terrorists. The torturers in all societies rationalize their conduct by similar depersonalization of their victims.

Religion has been employed by some countries and communities to justify prejudicial attitudes. Several studies have shown that those who profess traditional beliefs are more prejudiced than those who see religion as an open-ended search for meaning (Gorsuch, 1988). Religion has been exploited in rationalizing prejudice throughout history. The German army went into World War I with belts on which were emblazoned the slogan “God is with us”. There is much in religious practice and writing that argues in favor of the existing social order. Some religions argue that God ordained some people to be poor and slaves and others to be rich and powerful. The Apartheid regime in South Africa in the last century was based on the interpretation of the bible by a white minority. In war, many religious organizations bless soldiers on opposing sides as they go about slaughtering each other.

Not all religions justify social inequality. For some adherents who are very devout, religion is not related to prejudice. Some religious people view religion as a means of serving mankind (Allport & Ross, 1967). Other religious people are open-minded in their search for truth and meaning (Batson, Bolen, Cross, Neuringer-Benefiel, 1986). Religious people put their lives on the line in opposing the Nazi regime (Reed, 1989). In making these distinctions between the dogmatic and the open-minded we see a difference between those who are religious for reasons of social conformity who tend to be more prejudiced, and those who are religious in an open-ended search for truth and service to their fellow human beings and are less prejudiced.

5.6 Realistic group conflict
Realistic group conflict theory maintains that conflict occurs because of the limited resources in society and the unequal advantage of some groups. The economic advantages of some groups lead to the support for stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination toward the less fortunate (Jackson, 1993; Sherif, 1966). As early as 1938, Dollard documented the effects of economic competition on discriminatory behavior. As jobs grew scarce in the community, anger was directed toward new immigrants. We see similar results from various parts of history. Each wave of immigrants coming into United States has had to deal with discrimination as they threatened the jobs of the native born. These threats are currently being felt with now some 12 million illegal immigrants in the US, and millions more in Europe. People who feel most threatened by immigration, frequently poor whites, develop the most prejudicial attitudes. During the California gold rush, Chinese laborers came into the country in large numbers and competed for jobs with white miners. The resulting threat produced very prejudicial stereotypes, and the Chinese were described as primitive and depraved (Jacobs & Landau, 1971).

Realistic conflict theory predicts an increase in prejudice when the country experiences economic difficulties. In a classic study, Hovland and Sears (1940) examined the correlation between the price of cotton in the south and the number of lynchings of black people from 1882 to 1930. Since cotton was then the economic backbone of the southern economy, a drop in price signified difficult times for workers and the community. The economic frustration made it likely that deprivation of white workers would be expressed in aggression toward minorities. That is exactly what occurred. Whenever the price of cotton dropped, the number of lynchings increased (Hepworth & West, 1988). Did the poor black people have anything to do with the white people’s economic frustration? Not at all, other than the fact that both groups competed for the same resources.

5.7 Scapegoat theory
When times are difficult, and the culprit of frustration is not immediately apparent or too powerful, a scapegoat is often found. In Nazi Germany the scapegoats were the political and ethnic groups considered undesirable in society. Scapegoat theory is different from realistic group conflict theory. In Palestine Jews and Arabs are struggling over real resources in a non-zero sum game. Whatever one sides gains in territory is at the expense of the other. In scapegoat theory the source of the frustration is not easily identified, or otherwise too powerful to confront. In the case of poor whites and blacks struggling for survival, a realistic target of the frustration would have been the economic system and those who upheld the status quo in society. The system was responsible for the poverty of both whites and blacks. The system however was difficult to confront, and black people became a convenient substitute target. When a group is easy to identify, but unable to defend themselves, they become easy targets for scapegoating (Berkowitz, 1962).

One experiment created an experimental situation which made the participant angry. Subsequently, the subjects shocked a black confederate of the experimenter at significantly higher levels (Rogers & Prentice-Dunn,1981). When people are frustrated or angry, scapegoating becomes an easy substitute for the real targets of aggression. This is a tangible idea which finds support in many modern conflicts. In Eastern Europe the collapse of existing societies brought along great economic uncertainty and worry. These societies have seen an increase in chauvinistic nationalism, the growth of intergroup hostility, and attacks on those who can be identified as outsiders.

5.8 The Robbers Cave study
Perhaps our societies by their very competitive nature produce more or less automatic hostility whenever groups are formed. In the classic study by Sherif, Harvey, White, Hood, & Sherif (1961), Sherif and his collaborators investigated intergroup hostility in a Boys Scout camp. They succeeded in observing the boys as participant observers by posing as the maintenance crew in the camp. The researchers carefully noted the development of group relations as a consequences of competition. Many hours were spent initially screening a pool to find 22 boys who were equivalent on all significant dimensions. The participants did not come from broken homes, had no significant school problems, and were ethnically the same. This sample was then divided into two groups of eleven boys each.

Initially each group experienced considerable group cohesion as they enjoyed the varying camp activities. Each group chose a name for self-identification, the Rattlers and the Eagles. The experiment began as the boys were brought together for a tournament. The competitive part of the tournament brought on feelings of frustration as each group impeded the other from achieving coveted prices. Frustration brought on feelings of enmity and the two groups hurled insults at each other, burned the opposing group’s flag, and challenged members of the opposing group to fist fights and so forth. It appeared to Sherif that the mere presence of the two groups under conditions of competition brought on the intergroup hostility. If hostility can be created around such minimal competition which after all did not threaten the boy’s survival, how much more hostility can be created when intergroup competition occurs around issues that do threaten survival or group identification.

5.9 Group categorization: the in-group versus the out-group
Historically groups have served important functions for its members such as survival, identity, and self-esteem. Given these important functions it is no wonder that most of us develop a favorable bias toward our own group. When we identify ourselves with a group, the in-group, we at the same time describe those who do not belong, the out-group. In a competitive society that unfortunately is also associated with a negative bias toward all who are not “us”.

In fact it takes very little to create in-group bias, the mere membership of a group is sufficient. Early experiments concentrated on the minimal group categorization design. The experimenters sought to understand the minimum differences between groups required to produce in-group bias (Tajfel and Billig, 1974; Tajfel, 1970; 1981; 1982). By dividing subjects into arbitrary groups the distinction between the groups was minor. They were supposedly distinguished on the liking of abstract paintings. With this trivial distinction the experimenters could already create in-group bias.

In another study, Doise, Csepeli, Dann, Gouge, Larsen, & Ostell (1972) created experimental groups in the laboratory by asking the participants their aesthetic opinions of blown up pictures of blood corpuscles. These pictures were abstract and did not form a basis for making aesthetic judgments. We asked for these opinions so we could form two trivial experimental groups on the basis of their “aesthetic” preferences. All the participants (German soldiers) were asked to state their preference on a series of paired comparisons of these meaningless abstractions. After stating preferences, we removed ourselves as if scoring the results.

Following an interval we returned and stated that this experiment has been carried out in various parts of the world and people generally fall into one of two groups of esthetic preferences which we call X and Y. The discerning reader will now have observed that we created two nonsense groups based on a meaningless task. We then provided the participants with their group identification as randomly half of the participants were told they belonged to group X, the other half to group Y. Note that the participants did not know who were members of either group, only their own identification. On the basis of such meaningless group identification did the participants demonstrate in-group bias? The answer was yes. The participants were asked to describe members of group X and Y on a semantic differential attitude measurement, to describe each group’s physical traits, and to distribute money for participation in the experiment. The distribution of money could favor either group, or be distributed equally.

The results showed significant in-group bias consistent with the experiments performed by others (Wilder, 1981). On the basis of a meaningless group categorization, participants had more favorable attitudes toward members of their own group, described them with more favorable physical traits, and distributed more money to an anonymous member of their own group. In this minimal group design we emphasized again that the in-group bias was the result of a task asking bogus esthetic preferences, and without the participant knowing who in the room belonged to either group. If it takes so little to create in-group bias, how much more bias is present toward groups which are meaningful, like groups formed by gender, religion, or political views.

Many other experiments have confirmed the in-group bias (Ashburn-Nardo, Voils, & Monteith, 2001). The participants know they are not making choices for themselves, that the money they distribute goes to an anonymous participant. Yet time and time again participants show favoritism toward members of the in-group. In-group bias is even manifested when conditions do not favor in-group outcome. Participants are willing to receive less if their choices lead to a lower outcome for the other group, showing the underlying competitive motivation. In a competitive society group distinctions are almost automatic (Brewer & Brown, 1998). In the real world the outcomes frequently involve much more than the mere distribution of money. The in-group bias has been found in both genders, and in many nationalities. However, the in-group bias effect is less in interdependent cultures where people identify more with the cultural group, and make fewer competitive distinctions (Gudykunst, 1989).

5.9.1 Groups and social identity theory
Groups serve complex functions in the psychological economy of the individual. Our sense of who we are is defined by our group membership (Hogg & Abrams, 1988). The groups give us a sense of belonging that is related to positive feelings (Perdue, Dovido, Gurtman, & Tyler, 1990), and our sense of well-being. Some groups may have little importance like those in the minimal group design. Other groups, however, are central to our understanding of meaning or our sense of security. These may be ideological in nature or express central values of the member in some other way. The stronger we are attached to a group the more likely we are to see competing organizations as threatening, and to react to that threat.

Perceived threats are strong if the values of the competing organization resemble your group values, but still differ from your group on some crucial dimension. “Civil wars” are always the most violent. Historically we can observe this during the civil war in the US, in the battles between religious groups (e.g. the Shia versus Sunni), or between related political organizations (Trostkyist versus Pro-Soviet parties). We act in prejudicial and hostile ways toward competing organizations (Crocker & Luhtanen, 1990).

Group identification is also important to our sense of self-esteem (Cialdini, Borden, Thorne, Walker, Freman, & Sloan, 1976). Cialdini and his collaborators recorded how often students wore school T-shirts when their athletic teams experienced victory or defeat. As expected, the students were more likely to wear school colors after victories, when they could feel good about their association with the school. When our group achieves important goals we bask in its reflected glory. Witness the Olympic games. The pride of an Olympic championship is not only shared by the players or spectators, but indeed by all members of the national group.

The commercial world has caught on to the possibilities of social identity. The marketing of Nike shoes for example uses the concept of social identity. There are few differences between Nike shoes (other than brand name) and shoes costing a few euros, but when an esteemed sports star is associated with the product, it encourages more buying. Fans feel that by wearing the clothing they partake somewhat of the identity of the successful athlete. On more personal levels, we seek to associate with successful people, since doing so offers social recognition and self-esteem. Tajfel and Turner (1979) showed that a person’s self-concept and self-esteem does not derive from individual achievement alone, but also from the groups to which we belong.

Since our self-esteem is derived from group membership, it logically leads to in-group favoritism. Fighting for the prestige of the group lifts our spirits and self-esteem. Some studies have examined this phenomena by testing for self-esteem after a participant performed some act favoring the in-group. Studies (Lemyre & Smith, 1985; and Oakes & Turner (1980), show that people feel improved self-esteem by engaging in in-group favoritism. Those who identify strongly with the group also take stronger offense when the group is attacked. Strongly attached people take criticisms personally (McCoy & Major, 2003).

5.9.2 Social dominance theory
Social dominance theory describes societies as hierarchies with some people as winners and others as losers. Several researchers have suggested that dominance is created because it brings about evolutionary success (Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). In hierarchical societies, those at the top have an interest in stable social relations. The socially dominant defend the status quo by controlling the political apparatus and organizations in a country. Those lower in hierarchy, on the other hand, have an interest in establishing equality. They work in organizations like unions that promote egalitarian relations. The dominance orientation has strong prejudicial consequences for ethnic minorities (Duckitt, 2003). The socially dominant favor social conformity at any price, and display tough mindedness in dealing with outcasts like illegal immigrants (Duckitt, Wagner, du Plessis, & Birum, 2002).

On some occasions dominant groups maintain their privileged positions through physical force. The guardians of the state might exercise coercive power when required. However, the less dominant groups can also be co-opted. People can be seduced by apparent benevolence, the “father” dictatorship, whether at home or by the nation. In Turkey for example the founder Ataturk was called the “father of the nation”. Jackman (1994) calls this benevolent paternalism.

On an interpersonal level many men are both paternal and dominant. Women are loved, but also told to stay in their traditional roles. In the privacy of the homes those who were “house” slaves during slavery were often treated like members of the family. This held true as long as they remained servants and stayed in their subordinate roles. Supporting ideologies were developed to justify the dominant role of master and slave owner. These dominance ideologies ascribed negative traits to the subordinate group in this case the slaves (Klugel, 1990). In racist ideology for example blacks were perceived as apathetic at work, and promiscuous in interpersonal relations. Nowadays the debate on racial differences focuses on differences in intelligence. This extends the dispositional attributions to genetic differences. In this modern dominance theory, blacks are viewed as genetically inferior. Such “scientific” explanations had historically also found support among certain religious groups in the selective readings of religious scripture.

Under competitive conditions there is always the fear that the dominated group will successfully fight for its place in the sun. In a zero-sum world of scarce resources, equality between groups means that the socially dominant lose out. Some whites worry that their lives will deteriorate when minorities are given equal rights. The dominant group may also perceive threats to the welfare of the entire group or class. Individual self-interest is not the primary factor in prejudicial attitudes (Sears & Funk, 1991). Group deprivation seems to aggravate people the most, not personal deprivation. As a group, whites fear threats from immigrants, even when they are not personally affected (Pettigrew & Meertens, 1995). The reason seems apparent. Personal deprivations can be attributed to misfortune or to being unfit for a job. Group threat, however, is more serious, it is something beyond our control.

Those who see competition as a major cause of prejudice do not think that people in advantaged positions will willingly give up their dominance. There are so many economic and other advantages that accrue to those who dominate society. Perhaps the apparent declines in blatant racism are primarily illusionary. Since blatant racism is socially unacceptable, bigots keep their own counsel. Underneath social politeness lurks the same opposition to racial equality and unfavorable attitudes toward minorities (Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). Whites try to avoid offending racial minorities, and may even compensate and treat blacks more politely (Schuman, Steeh, Bobo, & Krysan, 1997). Others, however, have found support for persistent racist attitudes in face-to-face interviews (Krysan, 1998). Whether attitudes are changing or not, for many whites the issue is resolved by conforming to social expectations.

5.10 Social conformity and prejudice
Our desire to belong and be accepted by our reference groups produces conformity whether in the family, the community, or the nation. Most people’s behavior follows the easiest path and expresses attitudes that correspond to group norms. When it comes to behavior towards minorities, people act more from a desire to get along in their communities than from individually felt hatred. Like already noticed in chapter 7, surprisingly normal people acted in the as guards German concentration camps and conformed to Nazi expectations in committing heinous acts, and in the process believed they did the right thing. The link between conformity and prejudice is well established. Pettigrew (1958) found that prejudice among whites in both South Africa and the American south were largely motivated by conformity to established community norms. People who were prejudiced were rewarded, and those who did not conform were shunned. Pettigrew showed that those members of society who were most conformist were also the most prejudiced.

Socially conforming people have strong desires to avoid sanctions from significant others, and avoid experiencing the social cost of defying prejudicial norms. Reitzes (1953) and Minard (1952) showed white miners displaying no prejudice in the mines where racial interdependency was required and accepted. At the same time, however, these miners lived in rigidly segregated communities above ground. The dual behaviors can best be explained by the different norms which governed the mines and the community. The conformity perspective argues that people are prejudiced because they want to be accepted by valued reference groups.

The institutions of society work to perpetuate the norms that allow prejudicial behavior to appear “normal”. During his work in Australia, Larsen (1977b) observed the effect of community norms on white discriminatory behavior toward Aborigines. The norms allowed for discrimination and prejudice, although challenged by the 1975 Anti-discrimination Act. When some white Australians let their guard down in confidential conversations, one could observe the normative support for many of the prejudicial attitudes (Larsen, 1978; 1981).

5.11 Institutional support for prejudice
The institutions of society lend crucial support to prejudice through the mechanisms of segregation. In the South of United States (just like during the Apartheid regime in South-Africa) public facilities were rigidly segregated until the civil rights victories of the 1960’s. Black people could not sit down in a restaurant and have dinner with their families, but might be fed through the back door. They could not drink from the same water fountain as whites, nor sit anywhere except in the back of the bus. School facilities were also segregated. The institutions of society conveyed the inferior status of black people to both whites and blacks. The fighters for black equality and freedom understood the institutional basis of racism. It is no wonder that the first assault on racism came during the “sit ins” in restaurants, and in the attempt to integrate the transportation system, by mixed groups of whites and blacks. The changes that followed the Montgomery bus strike, and integration efforts by the interstate freedom riders, came because the structures of segregation were undermined and destroyed by these efforts.

Today, most of these overt forms of institutional support for prejudice have been removed in US society. But it was not until year 2000 that a university in the United States ended its ban on interracial dating (CNN, 2000). However, that does not mean that there are not discriminatory norms still in place. There are still norms about minorities and women that prevent fair treatment in the workplace. These views persist despite laws that make discriminatory behavior illegal. Discriminatory norms just require the unspoken consensus within a company that blacks are not suited for managerial responsibilities, and a woman’s place is in the home looking after children and husband. Stereotypes still find their way into television programs and the movies (Shaheen, 1990) depicting minorities and women in stereotypical ways. Women for instance are still under represented in the media, being outnumbered by 3 to 1 (Bretl & Cantor, 1988; Lovdal, 1989). There are also new stereotypes created of the “fanatic Arab”, and “dangerous black criminals”, which at best represent over generalizations of social reality. Normative conformity continues because of the support in society (Pettigrew, 1985; 1991) and it’s resistance to change. Changing the institutional support for prejudice is the most crucial weapon in the arsenal of those who want to build a society free of discrimination. The removal of institutional support for racism in the United States allows for new norms that largely favor integration (Hyman & Sheatsley, 1956; Knopke, Norell, & Rogers, 1991).

5.12 Personal dynamics and prejudice
Some attitudes derive from differential personality development. We are not all equal in opportunity or childrearing experiences. Some of us have been favored by good fortune. Other people developed in harsh environments and suffered permanent insecurities as a consequence.

Sources for prejudice are found within individuals rooted in personality or our way of thinking. In a competitive society we gain status by ranking higher than others on socially valued dimensions. The ranking, in turn, is a source of self-esteem, and function to support our self-perception as valued members of society. In a competitive university, it is not the student’s individual achievement that gives pleasure, but ranking with respect to other students. Student competition has at least one detrimental effect. In academically competitive environments fellow students are not looked upon as resources, but as competitors for a place on the ranking order of excellence.

When threatened, status conscious people may respond with prejudice. Those low on the economic ladder, and under threat of slipping further down, are most prejudiced (Lemyre & Smith, 1987). This effect can be demonstrated in a study on university sororities. Women who belonged to sororities that ranked relative low in status tended to be prejudiced toward higher ranked sororities (Crocker, Thompson, McGraw, & Ingerman, 1987). Attacks on self-esteem, being humiliated, also produce prejudicial reactions (Meindl & Lerner, 1984). In general, anything which diminishes the individual or produces insecurity increases prejudicial attitudes (Greenberg, Pyszczynski, Solomon, Rosenblatt, Veeder, Kirkland, & Lyon, 1990).

5.12.1 The authoritarian personality revisited
Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, & Sanford (1950) discussed several authoritarian traits that explained prejudice. Personality traits predictive of prejudice included submissiveness to authority, an intolerance for anything that indicated weakness, and a punitive attitude toward those seen as outcasts of society. The insecurity of the authoritarian person leads to an exaggerated concern with status and power. Authoritarians want to solve international problems through violence, and have contempt for those seeking peaceful solutions. Many authoritarians in the American population are convinced of the need for toughness, and lend support to military adventures. They are also contemptuous of criticism of the military establishment which they see as the ultimate guarantee of security. Many authoritarians seek careers in the military or security services.

The authoritarian sees everything in absolute terms, there is a wrong way and a right way. There are black people and white people, and the two should not mix as why did God create the races? Ambiguity is not easily tolerated by authoritarians, and they favor political leaders who appear tough and decisive. Authoritarians are those who, for example, would not admit defeat in Vietnam, but argued that the proper placement of atomic bombs would have decisively ended the conflict.

Domestically the authoritarian tendencies seem to increase in times of economic difficulties and distress (Doty, Peterson, & Winter, 1990). The Nazi ideology gained adherents in Germany after the economic depression and defeat during the First World War. Other upheavals seem to confirm the underlying insecurity and hostility manifested in prejudice (Larsen, 1969; 1970). In chapter 10 we will discuss in more detail the psychology of torturers. Torturers often display submissiveness toward authority, and have contempt for their victims (Staub, 1989). In international relations, authoritarian tendencies are unleashed in chauvinistic attitudes. Chauvinism is the idea that one’s nation is better than any other nation. It is not pride in cultural achievement that motivates authoritarians, but rather a belief in the real or mythical high ranking of the nation. “God’s country” or “blessed land” are synonymous descriptions of the nation for people who gain self-esteem vicariously, and who are fundamentally motivated by insecurity.

5.12.2 Social cost, belief incongruence and race: some theoretical comparisons
Social cost is a concept which argues that prejudice derives from our desire to avoid disapproval and gain the approval of significant others in intergroup relations. Intimate relations produce the greatest potential social cost. As we discussed earlier families are likely to express strong feelings, positive or negative, when a loved one proposes marriage to someone from another ethnic or racial group. The concept differs from normative conformity (Pettigrew, 1958) in being specific in regard to who enforces the norms of a prejudiced community. How do we identify norms except through the perception of punishments or rewards administered by significant others? Esteemed religious or community leaders may also be a source of social costs when they are in contact with the person. Normative conformity has little meaning apart from this specific vehicle of enforcement that is the social cost of acceptance or rejection (Larsen, 1971).

Rokeach (1960) extended the theory on authoritarianism. Rightwing authoritarianism (Adorno et al, 1950) referred to the content of people’s beliefs thought responsible for prejudice and much destruction in the world. Rokeach argued that close-mindedness was the operative form of authoritarianism and that it could occur at any point of the political spectrum. The critical factor in dogmatism is the relative open-mindedness or close-mindedness to information. When our minds are closed, we are high in dogmatism and prejudice. Rokeach would argue that we reject others primarily because of perceived differences in beliefs or belief incongruence. Therefore what matters is not so much the content of a person’s beliefs, but the belief structure, whether the mind was open or not. If we are prejudiced toward black people, Rokeach would argue, it is because we perceive differences in values and beliefs

Unfortunately the literature is largely silent on the relative importance of various theories of prejudice. Researchers are content with establishing the validity of conceptual ideas, and not the relative importance of each. Larsen (1974; 1976; 1978) found relative support for the social cost concept. Why is belief incongruence a factor in prejudice? It could be argued that close-mindedness is a consequence of the approval-disapproval process, as it requires some motivating function. The point argued here is that people become close-minded for reasons of social costs, and the need to sharply differentiate between approved and disapproved thought. Again, why is racial categorization a factor? Social norms about race are powerful determinants precisely because they bring perceived social costs from significant others. In other words social norms are all about conforming to gain approval and avoid disapproval. Social cost may be seen as the integrating variable that explains prejudicial behavior.

5.13 Social cognition: ways of simplifying the world
As discussed previously we stereotype because doing so helps us make sense of the bewildering array of stimuli which demands attention. By developing social categories like black and white we simplify our world and reduce attentional stress. Simplifying social cognition requires that we bypass a lot of information, and focus on what is most important: people’s membership in social categories. Social categories help us to think more quickly, and bring to mind all relevant information even if much of that is distorted and inaccurate. Stereotypes help us recall quickly from memory all the relevant and salient information. Do you greet a woman the same way as a man? If not, it is because you have categorized men and women, and before interaction have brought to bear the salient stereotypes.

There are problems in social categorization. Keeping in mind our discussion of stereotypes, social categorization simplifies social reality, and in the process robs the individual of what is truly salient. Social categorization bypasses individual evaluations and makes judgment based on group stereotypes. Yet we all know that there are many individual differences within groups. Not all women are nurturant, some women take the lives of their children. Not all men are dominant, some pursue other lives of fulfillment like nursing. When we categorize people, we direct attention away from these salient individual characteristics. Stereotypes may distort social reality and produce false memories. We tend to remember traits and behaviors that are consistent with the category even if false (Lenton, Blair, & Hastie, 2001).

Nevertheless category impressions are universal and resistant to change. We attend only to individual differences if we have time, or if the categorization process is challenged. A realistic view of others would require evaluations of personal attributes, a very time consuming process (Fiske & Neuberg, 1990). It is easier to apply our value-laden stereotypes, which are readily available as they are largely emotionally based (Stangor, Sullivan, & Ford, 1991). The behavioral utility of social categorization can be easily shown (Payne, 2001). In the experiment, participants were shown black and white faces followed by objects. Participants found it easy to remember a gun when it was preceded by a black face, evidence for the presence of the “black as criminal” stereotype. In The United States, the white versus black categorization goes to extremes as anyone with even a drop of black blood belongs to the category. It is reminiscent of the Nazi categorization of Jews; anyone with minimal genetic connection was categorized as such. Nevertheless all people carry schemas of typical representatives of social categories (again consult chapter 4 on social cognition), and it is those typical facial traits that elicit stereotypes for many people (Lord, Lepper, & Mackie, 1984).

Are there evolutionary advantages which derive from group membership? If so those people who survived and passed on their genes may well have a predisposition to favor in-groups and disdain out-groups. Does evolutionary advantage explain the unconscious favoritism found in the minimal group design? Other researchers would point to the competitive nature of many human groups, particularly in the western countries. Competition produces unconscious biases toward those we share something with, even if meaningless (Mullen, Brown, & Smith, 1992, Wilder, 1981). Even when all that is shared is a mindless category, it resulted in attribution of positive personality traits to members of the in-group.

5.13.1 Out-group homogeneity
The process of simplifying the world requires us to use stereotypes, resulting in perceiving members of out-groups as more similar than they in fact are. This is called out-group homogeneity (Linville, Fischer, & Salovey, 1989). Males think that females are more alike than justified by real behavior. Perhaps you believe in the stereotype that all women want is to raise families? In fact there are important individual differences overlooked in the perception of out-group homogeneity. Some women want to have families, some want careers, others want both families and careers. However, by using the perception of out-group homogeneity we can simplify our world, and treat women as a class of people. Perception of out-group homogeneity has consequences for employment. If you believe the only purpose of women is to have children, would you hire a woman for jobs requiring expensive training, or promote women to positions of responsibility? Likewise discrimination toward other groups is justified in similar ways. If you meet a member of the out-group you can call on the appropriate schemas, and your responses will be based not on individual differences, but the stereotype. Perception of out-group homogeneity has been found in other studies (Hartstone & Augoustinos, 1995; Ostrom & Sedikides, 1992).

People believe that members of the out-group think and act alike. In studies of simple music preference at neighboring universities, participants see more similarity among students at the other university. Perception of out-group homogeneity generalizes behavior to all members of the out-group, while allowing for more diversity within the in-group (Qattrone, & Jones, 1980; Ostrom & Sedikides, 1992; Park & Judd, 1990). We meet more with members of the in-group, and therefore have more opportunity to observe differences. Lacking that person-to-person experience with members of the out-group, we form opinions based on the common stereotype.

5.13.2 Simplification of in-group similarity and perceived out-group differences
Despite having more common experiences with the in-group, some studies show that stereotypical cognition produces less variability within both the out-group and in-group. Further, we perceive greater differences between the two groups (Tajfel & Wilkes, 1963). It is difficult to build bridges between groups when the stereotypes accentuate differences, and do not allow for all that they have in common. In fact, humanity probably holds most values in common. All societies appreciate the importance of family, the search for meaning, the importance of peace, and respect for the dignity of the individual. We probably all put value on ending global warming so our species may survive, and our children have a more secure future. The hostility generated by stereotypes does not allow us to consider these common values. In all societies and cultures people have much more in common than perceived differences. All societies have a desire to survive and prosper, support families. All people face developmental tasks, and the ultimate ending of existence. These communalities provide a basis for the human discourse which stereotypical thinking interrupts or destroys.

Stereotypes help us conserve intellectual energy, which can be applied elsewhere (Macrae, Milne, & Bodenhausen, 1994). The downside is obvious. As constructs, stereotypes are over-generalizations, and inaccurate descriptions of other groups. Stereotypes may save time for the cognitively lazy person, but they produce unfair judgments of others, and lend support to discriminatory practices.

5.13.3 Stereotypes determine interpretation of interaction
Part of the resistance to change comes from the biased information processing. The individual’s behavior is seen as being typical of the group as a whole. Information about the out-group is also not evaluated fairly (Bodenhausen,1988; Kunda & Thagard, 1996). Information consistent with the stereotype is placed in memory for future interactions, facts that are inconsistent are forgotten or ignored. How the information is interpreted is influenced by the stereotype. In one study, white participants watched a heated debate between two men, one white one black. At one point, one of the participants in the debate gave the other a shove for disapproval. Half of the participants saw the black confederate giving the shove, the other half the white confederate. At various points in the discussion, the participants were asked to rate the interaction. The racial stereotype affected how the same behavior was coded. When the black member shoved, it was perceived as aggression, whereas when the white person did the shoving, it was perceived as “playing around”. In another study (Stone, Perry, & Darley, 1997) participants listened to a play-by-play account of a basketball game. Half had a picture of a white basketball player, for the other half the picture was darkened so the same person now looked black. Those who thought the player was black attributed more athleticism and thought him a better player, consistent with the stereotype of blacks in society. Those who thought the player was white, rated him as showing more energy and hustle, and as playing a smart game. Both of these studies show that biased stereotypes affect how the same information is processed.

5.13.4 Stereotypes of others affect behavior
Other people’s stereotypes may affect your behavior. In a study investigating the effectiveness of a white and black debater on nuclear energy, the participants were asked to rate the skill employed in the debate. In one experimental condition, a confederate of the experimenter made a highly racist remark about the black debater, to the effect that there was no way a “nigger” could win the debate. In two other conditions, he made either a non-racist remark, or made no remark at all. If the racist comment had no effect there should be no difference in evaluation. The results showed that the participants rated the debaters equally when a non-racist remark was made. However, the black debater was perceived lower in skill after the racist remark. These results show that we can be influenced by the comments of those around us, and the study is a strong argument for rules prohibiting prejudicial and hostile commentary. Stereotypes are easily elicited, and difficult to remove. As part of our cultural heritage they are always available and ready to use.

5.13.5 Implicit and explicit stereotypes
Devine (1989) used a distinction from cognitive psychology between automatic and controlled processing. Prejudicial attitudes may also be either explicit or implicit. Explicit attitudes exist as a result of rational awareness and conclusions. However, at times explicit racist attitudes are repressed as unacceptable to the individual or society. Attitude scales measure conscious attitudes on which the individual can reflect, i.e. explicit attitudes. Explicit measures correlate with important behaviors such as evaluations determining a black defendant’s guilt, or assessment of the adequacy of black interviewers.

Implicit attitudes on the other hand are measured (as discussed earlier) by priming the respondent’s attitudes with racial pictures, and measuring response time to stereotypically consistent and inconsistent words (Rudman & Kilianski, 2000). Implicit attitudes correlate with other involuntary responses like blinking, or to aversion of physical or eye contact (Banaji, Nosek, & Greenwald, 2005). The differences between implicit and explicit prejudice continues to be a subject of debate in social psychology (Blair, 2002).

5.13.6 Resistance to changing stereotypes
Stereotypes are heuristic shortcuts (Macrae & Bodenhausen, 2000) and prepare us for interaction with little information. They reflect broad social and cultural beliefs. Most people would not find it difficult to describe other cultural groups using stereotypical traits (Gilbert, 1951; Katz & Braly, 1933). Many of these descriptions have remained the same even after many years (Devine & Elliot, 1995). When people have no personal experience with other national groups, they find it easy to describe that group in stereotypical terms. Bulgarians have stereotypes about Gypsies and Turks; Danes about Germans and Swedes; Vietnamese about the Chinese, and in all national groups similar processes of simplistic social cognition. Do you have stereotypes about Americans? Are they favorable or unfavorable? What are some of the descriptions you would use? In the Karlins, Coffman, & Walters (1969) study, Americans were described as materialistic, ambitious, pleasure-loving, industrious, and conventional. On the other hand, American Blacks were described as musical, happy-go-lucky, lazy, pleasure-loving, and ostentatious. Which of these stereotypes has negative consequences for members of the group?

A major reason for the invariability of stereotypes is that they are descriptions of groups of people not easily disconfirmed by individual behavior. Any individual variation can be rationalized as the exception. Information in support of the stereotype is supporting evidence, and factual evidence which disconfirms is the exception that proves the rule. The frequency of crime in the black community is attributed to black culpability and dispositions to live a criminal life. Black members of the police force are seen as an exception due to fortunate family or community experiences (Kulik, 1983; Swim & Sanna, 1996).

Information intended to change people’s stereotypes often has little effect. In fact, information may be counterproductive as it elicits the counter arguing process in the prejudiced person (Kunda & Oleson, 1997). New information favoring the targeted group causes the prejudiced person to counter argue, and in his mind produce all the reasons for holding his racist beliefs and resist influence. It takes more than a few examples of the incorrectness of stereotypical views to change attitudes. The person must be bombarded with disconfirming information over a sustained period of time (Webber & Crocker, 1983). Since there are both cognitive and emotional reasons for resistance, stereotypes are difficult to change. Most prejudicial attitudes have strong emotional components which rational appeals do not address. Further, stereotyping simplifies the world, and we selectively attend to the information which confirms our beliefs.

Further support for stereotypes is found in the way we encode behavior, how we use relative abstract or concrete level of descriptions (Vallacher & Wegner, 1987). We can “help someone” across the street, or we can behave in “altruistic ways”. The level of abstraction used carries different connotations about the behavior. A black police officer “arrested” a criminal. A white officer is a member of the “thin blue line”. The more concrete we make a description, the less it says anything noteworthy about the individual. All police officers can arrest someone, but you have to be ascribed altruistic value to be part of the thin blue line that protects society.

In fact, stereotypes are almost automatic for many people. However, some people can indeed overcome prejudicial attitudes by controlling their cognition. A fleeting prejudicial thought can be suppressed as being unworthy or unrealistic. Other people, however, do not take the time to reflect on bigoted thinking. In the entrenched prejudicial person, the control processes are not activated. Bigots more or less automatically incorporate the common stereotypes without hesitation.

Devine (1989a) and Zuwerink, Monteith, Devine, & Cook (1996) developed a two-process theory of cognitive processing. The automatic processing brings the stereotypes to mind, the control process enables us to refute the distorted views. However, there is considerable variability in the use of automatic processing of negative stereotypes, we do not all process automatically to any common standard (Fazio, Jackson, Dunton, & Williams, 1995).

5.13.7 How to draw the wrong conclusions: illusionary correlations
Our cognitive processing perpetuates stereotyping through the perception of illusionary correlations. This occurs when we think two objects or variables are correlated, when in fact they are not. Some people believe that the inability to have children is caused by stress, and therefore when couples adopt and remove the stress they conceive. In fact there is no relationship between stress and pregnancy. However, at some point an adoption occurred for a couple close in time with pregnancy and stress as a cause of infertility became a common belief (Gilovich, 1991).

Illusionary correlations also promote more serious stereotypes. The idea that minorities are dangerous may be based on an illusionary correlation of Black actor’s behavior in violent television episodes. Blacks are a minority and therefore distinctive. Hence, events featuring black actors are better remembered because of their distinctiveness, even though many white actors also appear in violent programming. Many stereotypes directed toward minority groups are confirmed by illusionary correlations (Hamilton, Stroessner, & Mackie, 1993). The distinctiveness of minority representatives leads to a belief in the illusionary correlation between observed behavior on television and the behavior of the entire racial group. When people with stereotypes observe new behavior, their expectations and perceptions are guided by the illusionary correlation. If black actors appear in nonviolent programming, that is an exception or not relevant to the situation. Because of the selectiveness of perception, it is very difficult to disconfirm the illusion. We see what we want to see (Hamilton & Sherman, 1989).

When the events believed correlated are both distinctive, the illusionary correlation is strengthened (Fiedler, 1991; Hamilton & Gifford, 1976; Smith, 1991). In a recent eating contest, a skinny young woman won hands down. Eating contest is novel in society, and we do not expect skinny women to win these events. The event and the skinny woman winning are both distinctive, and could form the basis of a new illusionary correlation. Skinny women as champion eaters! However, the stereotypes of big fat men being heavy eaters probably outweigh such distinctiveness.

Salient people are perceived as the cause of whatever is occurring (Taylor & Fiske, 1978). Distinctiveness brings attention and creates illusions of differences that do not exist. We use distinctive cases as a heuristic rule in judging members of minority groups. A black person in an all white group is distinctive, and we may see outcomes in the group as due to his behavior. If the group is frustrated, we may be tempted to think this is due to the hostile behavior of the minority person, an illusionary correlation. We see a black person driving a Cadillac and come to the conclusion that they do not care about housing if they are poor. Alternatively, the Cadillac as a status symbol may lead to the illusionary correlation that all black men have gotten rich by ill-gotten means. One or two similar cases are sufficient to form an illusionary correlation.

The mass media reinforce illusionary correlations. A couple of years ago a mentally ill patient killed his psychiatrist in Oslo. There was subsequently much debate on the potential danger to society from the mentally ill. This singular event formed the basis of an illusionary correlation. In actual fact, there is little danger from psychiatric patients, only few pose a danger to themselves or society. Stereotyping encourages people to see correlations where there are none, (McArthur & Friedman, 1980).

6. Modern racism: the fundamental and ultimate attribution errors
The fundamental attribution error occurs when we attribute behavior predominantly to inner dispositions, disregarding significant situational determinants. According to Pettigrew (1979, 1980), this becomes the ultimate attribution error when we explain behavior of groups. The in-group is given the benefit of the doubt, and we think the worst when it comes to the out-group.

Since society changes racist ideology takes on new forms. To prove blacks are inferior to whites serves important ideological functions. Genetic racial inferiority is a strong argument against integration, since the average intelligence of a nation would decrease from integration of racial inferior and superior groups. The debate of the relative intelligence of racial groups has a long history. The most recent contribution to the debate is the book by Hernstein and Murray (1994). In a review of research on intelligence, they presented evidence of statistically significant differences in academic performance between blacks and whites. These differences, the authors concluded, derive from genetic components. Learning can therefore modify performance only within these genetic parameters.

Besides these tests “proving” that whites perform better than blacks, other tests showed that Asian Americans perform better than whites. The important question is why these differences occur? Should we attribute these differences to genetic components as Hernstein and Murray would argue? That argument would be in conformity with racist ideology that poor performance be attributed to dispositional causes, to some inadequacy within the group targeted.

However, the differences can also be attributed to situational causes. Nowhere in the United States do blacks or whites have comparable social environments. Blacks typically suffer from inferior social support, from poverty, inferior school systems, inadequate nutrition, and many other discriminatory factors that also explains racial differences. Since it is not possible to separate the genetic from the environmental component, the decision favoring situational or dispositional factors becomes a choice of ideology.

Racism impacts the self-concept and creates insecurity. Under conditions of evaluation, blacks feel apprehensive, debilitating self-esteem and lowering performance. Blacks are well aware of the common stereotype about inferior academic performance, and feel “stereotype threat” from the expectations (Aronson, Quinn, & Spencer, 1998; Steele & Aronson, 1995). The apprehension centers on feelings that the black respondent will confirm the existing stereotype of intellectual inferiority. In the above experiment, whites and blacks performed equally well when blacks did not believe they were being evaluated (when they thought the exam was for the purpose of improving the test itself). However, blacks did poorly when they believed the test evaluated individual performance. Most of you have experienced test anxiety, and know how it inhibits thinking and performance.

Similar stereotype threats are found for gender (Spencer, Steele, & Quinn, 1999). When women thought the purpose of the test was to demonstrate differences between males and females, stereotypic threat created poor performance (see also the discussion earlier in this chapter). However, when women believed that the test was not designed to show gender differences, they did as well as men on the math test. Stereotype threat affects the performance of the targeted group. Remember stereotypic threat consequences are found also in white males when they believe they are competing with Asian males in math (Aronson, Lustina, Good, Keough, Steele, & Brown, 1999). A common stereotype in the US supports the superiority of Asian males in mathematics.

We have a choice whether we attribute these differences to dispositional causes, e.g., the inferiority of women and white males in mathematics, or situational causes, i.e., different social environments and opportunities. We have a choice whether to believe in a dispositional cause, the genetic inferiority, or a situational cause, the inferior environment. The attributional conclusions drawn have important implications for social policy. If the dispositional cause is promoted, the resulting policy supports segregation, and blames the victim. If attribution is made to situational causes, the policy required is improvement of the social environment.

Nevertheless, there is a strong tendency to blame the victim for any shortcomings (Lerner, 1991). By attributing poor performance to the victim, we can rationalize what otherwise would be an unjust world (Furnham & Gunter, 1984). Beliefs in a just world require an attribution of blame to the victim. Blacks are personally responsible for misfortune. Dispositional attribution would argue that the rape victim’s seductive behavior brought on the rape (Wagstaff, 1982).

6.1 A just world or racist ideology: The ultimate attribution error
The fundamental attribution error occurs then when we attribute significant social behavior to personal dispositions, and devalue the situational forces that may be responsible. The situational context of black behavior in America is slavery and the institutions that supported segregation and discrimination. Pettigrew (1979; 1980) suggested that this attributional bias could be defined in racial relations as the “ultimate attribution error”. When we understand individual behavior within the context of group stereotypes, we commit the ultimate error, and we expect the worst from targeted groups. If a black person is intelligent and performs at high levels, we dismiss this as a special case. Intelligent behavior could even be used against minority people as we found in our conversations with some whites in Australia. Intelligent Aborigines were perceived to be those of mixed race, and were also considered the most dangerous, according to this racist view.

The persistence of racist perspectives derives from ideological beliefs in a just world. Many people subscribe to the idea that we live in a fundamentally just world, and misfortune is a consequence of our own behavior (Lerner & Miller, 1978; Lerner, 1980). Becoming a victim, produces a negative evaluation, as we saw in the studies of attitudes toward rape victims (Carli, & Leonard, 1989). Is the victim ultimately responsible? Just world ideology is closely tied in to beliefs in individualism, and may be more dominant in western societies. Believing that the world is just, explains much of the opposition to social welfare, or national medical care. If you are poor or ill, this misfortune comes from bad choices you made in the past, and you are individually responsible.

The just world concept is related to social dominance theory. Those who are dominant can think of their fortune as an entitlement from a just God. Those who are unfortunate do not deserve sympathy, as they are responsible for their own lives. The just world concept applauds the winners of life, and denigrates the losers. Sick people are responsible for their illness (Gruman & Sloan, 1983); and rape victims should have appeared less seductively (Borgida & Brekke, 1985). The just world concept supports many stereotypes and much discriminatory behavior. Social inertia is an ideological consequence since ultimately misfortune is not the responsibility of society of the community. What are we to do?

7. The reduction of prejudice in society
As we have seen, prejudice affects millions of lives all over the world. What is to be done? Does prejudice derive from ignorance? Many people are prejudiced without having any personal experiences with the target group. Perhaps ignorance can be reduced by education? Education may provide facts that help us see other people in a better light. Yet, we have seen that many stereotypes are sustained because they satisfy emotional needs and factual information would change few minds because of the selective information processing of the prejudiced person. Facts that support the stereotype are retained whereas the information that is disconfirming is discarded. Would more contact be helpful?

7.1 The right type of contact can lead to reduction of prejudice
Perhaps we need more personal contact with minorities. The 1954 Supreme Court decision, which outlawed school segregation in the US, was seen by many as the beginning of the end of prejudice. There were good reasons to feel that way. Deutsch and Collins (1951) had studied attitudes among whites who lived in segregated and integrated housing. They found that housing integration led not only to more contact between the races, but also to more positive attitudes among whites. However, the research that followed (Stephan, 1978; 1985) did not lend support to the idea that contact led to a decrease in prejudice.

The self-esteem of black children also did not improve after desegregation. In a majority of the studies, prejudice actually increased following desegregation. Increase in contact did not produce better interracial relations or an improvement in the self-concept. Formal desegregation did not result in real integration as de facto segregation continued. In the integrated armed services, soldiers continued being segregated in friendship patterns, in schools children ate lunch in separate corners, and played primarily with same race companions (Aronson & Thibodeau, 1992; Schofield, 1986).

Clearly contact did nothing to improve attitudes in these studies so does contact have any effect? Some would maintain that contact at least reduces the most bizarre stereotypes (Pettigrew & Tropp, 2003). However, it is not contact that matters, but the type of contact. Historically, in the South of the US, there was lots of contact between blacks and whites, but under conditions of inequality. Inequality served to confirm existing biases, as a result of both selective treatment and information processing. What mattered then was the type of contact (Allport, 1954). In his pioneering work, Allport noted the importance of equal status during the contact, the perception of common goals, that contact received institutional support, and led to the perception of common interests.

Sherif, Harvey, White, Hood, & Sherif (1961) came to similar conclusions. Hostility was reduced when the boys studied at camp, perceived common goals, and developed feelings of interdependence. In the housing study (Deutsch & Collins, 1951) the racial groups had equal status, and stereotypes were therefore confronted. The importance of friendly interaction has also been emphasized (Wilder, 1986). Formally desegregating interaction between groups does little to promote friendly feelings essential to the development of empathy. Also, contact should be with many representatives to avoid the “exception to the rule” rationalization. Multiple contacts are necessary to encourage the disconfirmation of stereotypes. Since conformity plays so large a role in prejudicial behavior, it is also essential to change the social norms. Creating high quality contact may result in new social norms which lend support to equal treatment and valuations (Amir, 1969; Gaertner, Dovido, Rust, Nier, Banker, & Ward, 1999). High quality contacts are personal and allow for friendship (Cook, 1978). Prejudice is reduced when contact is frequent enough, and has a personal quality that promotes empathy.

In today’s USA blacks and whites continue to live in segregation. Despite laws that favor integration, the large majority continues to live in segregated neighborhoods (Fasenfest, Boozy, & Metzger, 2004). Real segregation continues as there is little friendship between the races (Jackman & Crane, 1986). In Europe those who have interracial friendships tend to be the less prejudiced (Pettigrew, 1997), which supports the importance of high quality contact. These results underline also the problem. Those who are prejudiced simply avoid interaction, and display anxiety about interracial contact (Plant & Devine, 2003), whereas the non-prejudiced seek (intimate) contact.

At the end of the day, is there to be a common destiny? In the Sherif study, the boys cooperated on a number of tasks that subsequently changed their attitudes. These tasks were called “super ordinate goals” by Sherif, goals held in common by all which transcended any group differences. There is no shortage of super ordinate goals in the world. Controlling global warming is a super ordinate goal which must be reached through the cooperation of all parties, and is essential to the survival of civilization. Nuclear disarmament is another super ordinate goal. Today so many years after the cold war, the superpowers are still heavily armed and can destroy the entire world within 15 minutes. Everywhere in the world we face religious and ethnic divisions and conflict. The blood bath that is Iraq reminds us of what happens when the same national group decides that their ethnic subcategory is more important than the overall national welfare. We need to view society with more inclusive categories (Dovidio, Gaertner, & Validzic, 1998b) and strengthen the perception that we are all part of humanity.

Societies must be created that meet the needs of all citizens. A cooperative world contributes to feelings of common destiny and the reduction of prejudice. Increasing national income and wellbeing would reduce the competitive cause for prejudice. Competitive societies can best be described as those playing a non-zero sum game. However in competitive societies, what one person or group gains is at the expense of other individuals or groups. Can we develop a vision for more cooperative societies?

8. The jigsaw puzzle method in the classroom: An experiment in cooperation
The initial efforts at desegregating classrooms did not bring the desired improvement in self-esteem or racial cooperation (Stephan, 1978). Aronson (1978) did an experiment in cooperation with Texas school children. He pursued classroom integration through a new effort at student cooperation called the jigsaw puzzle classroom. The class was divided into six person units. Each group was assigned a learning task based on assigned reading material, and each member of the group had to learn one sixth of the material. The individual student possessed a fraction of the material which all the students needed to learn. Each participant then had to teach the other five students their segments so all the material could be put together like a jigsaw puzzle. In traditional classroom settings, students compete for grades and attention. The competition supports the idea that other students are competitors, not resources. By contrast, the jig saw puzzle method made the students interdependent. Even the weakest student had an important role, because the other students needed him to get the complete picture. Encouragement to transmit learning was provided in jigsaw classes, as otherwise important information would be excluded. In contrast to the competitive class rooms, in the jig saw classes it was in everyone’s interest to perform at high levels.

A great deal of research has now been completed on the jigsaw classroom. The results strongly favor the method over the competitive classroom (Aronson, Blaney, Stephan, Sikes, & Snapp, 1978; Aronson & Gonzales, 1988; Walker & Crogan, 1998; Wolfe & Spencer, 1996). Students in the jig saw classes demonstrated less prejudice, and developed more cross ethnic liking relationships. The children also demonstrated improved self-esteem. Cross ethnic groups spent more time together out of the class room and with enough quality contact to truly change stereotypic views. Improved relations are produced by removing in-group-out-group distinctions (Gaertner, Mann, Dovido, & Murrell, 1990). In the process, students developed more empathy. It is a wonder that this method has not been more broadly applied, as it could be used in a variety of arenas where competitive or hostile categories prevent empathy and effective communication.

Prejudice is common to and prevalent in all modern societies. Prejudice is an attitude with three common components. The affective component is called prejudice, the cognitive component stereotype, and discrimination refers to behavioral consequences. In the literature, the term prejudice is an umbrella term used for all three components. In the US, prejudice toward blacks derives from our history of slavery and the Jim Crow laws which followed that supported racial segregation. Our common history targeted all ethnic groups as can be seen in the many pejorative terms available to the bigot. Intergroup enmity is persuasive and it is a part of the human condition. However, prejudice is learned and can be unlearned.

Victims of bigotry suffer many harmful effects. Stereotypes produce self-fulfilling prophecies, when the victim behaves in accordance with social expectations. When stereotypes are made salient to minority group members, it causes stereotype threat and lower performance on a variety of tasks. Stereotypes unfairly limit expectations since they ignore the overlap in behavior between groups and individual differences within groups. Stereotypes also support the evaluation of performance, and eventual success. When rapid responses are required, stereotypes can be deadly for targeted people. Reaction time in video games and in real life shows that people depend on simple heuristics in making life or death decisions. The reaction time in stereotypic consistent situations is short. For example in a situation in which blacks are perceived as threatening.

Stereotypes which sustain prejudice are often based on ancestral myths or religious enmity. There is a grain of truth in all stereotypes. There is more crime in black communities, but not all blacks are criminals. Females are more nurturant, but some mothers kill their children. Socialization determines the form of stereotypes in all societies, they are vast over-generalizations, and do not evaluate the historical conditions creating behavior. Discrimination occurs because society allows it or is indifferent. Stereotypes support discrimination, a discrimination that proceeds from ethnocentrism. People tend to give the in-group the benefit of any doubt, and consistently show in-group bias.

The history of the world is one of intergroup hostility and discrimination. The treatment of the Japanese Americans in the US during World War II, and the persecution of political progressives, labeled communists, during McCarthyism, are examples of societal prejudice. Members of in-groups are rated favorably in employment, and indeed in all walks of life. It is a challenge for social psychologists to understand why intergroup enmity is so prevalent and decisive in human interaction.

Changing norms often create ambiguity. The targeted person is unsure if prejudice, or personal inadequacy is responsible for misfortune. We have experienced significant changes in racial and gender norms over the past decades. Black people recognized that stereotypes negatively impacted self-esteem. The “black is beautiful” movement arose in direct response to assaults on the self-concept of black children. Gender stereotypes have gone through a similar transformation. In the past, both genders accepted gender-limiting stereotypes. However, in the modern woman, self-depreciation has largely faded. In intimate relations, there is a reserve of prejudice, when the social costs are very high.

Blatant prejudice is fading in modern society, but subtle biases remain. Prejudiced people are conforming to new norms of racial equality. The bigoted person still exists but may no longer tell the truth about his attitudes, his racism has taken on a different form. Modern forms of racism are expressed in opposition to busing as a means to integrate schools. Much opposition is also expressed against affirmative action. This opposition is derived from individual rights and community values. Egalitarian values are used to maintain the status quo and resist integration. A victim’s behavior is attributed dispositionally, and the victim is perceived as personally responsible for his misfortune. In refusing to consider the situational factors affecting behavior, the bigot can uphold, in his own mind, belief in equality of treatment. The focus of concern becomes the “equal” treatment of the majority. Underlying support for “egalitarian behavior” is a reserve of ill will.

Flagrant racism is also fading in Europe, but indifference toward victims is also a form of racism. Modern racism promotes an ideology of merit and colorblind judgment, although this concern for equality is merely an excuse for indifference toward victims and racial inequality. The bogus pipeline and the Implicit Association Test uncover prejudice even among those who deny it to themselves.

Prejudice is complex behavior. It is learned, and therefore relies on the basic methods of learning: classical conditioning, reinforcement, and social learning. Early learning is of particular importance, by age seven the child understands discriminatory community norms. Once learned, stereotypes are difficult to change. The media plays a role in the learning of stereotypes by how it portrays minorities and women. Often the depiction is unflattering or menial. At times there are no role models for members of the minority.

As mentioned before, in modern racism social inequality is a precursor to prejudice in times of rising expectations. Intergroup conflict is caused by inequality in consumption. Social inequality is used as a justification of prejudice. Inequality is presented as a desirable condition for the oppressed. Colonizers saw themselves as carrying the “white man’s burden”, and believed that they provided “civilization”. Once discrimination has occurred, it is easy to justify it by stereotypes and pejorative terms. Another example is dogmatic religion which is exploited to preserve the status quo of inequality, explained as a consequence of God’s will or fate. Realistic group conflict also occurs. The economically advantaged justify the status quo by prejudice toward the disadvantaged. The greater the economic and status differences the higher the prejudice.

Scapegoating theory explains why hostility is directed toward substitute targets such as the disadvantaged rather than the real source of frustration. Often the source of the frustration is not easily identified, at other times it is too powerful. The aggression is displaced toward those who cannot respond and have little power. In the Robbers Cave study Sherif demonstrated how competition elicited hostile behavior. That classical study also showed how to overcome prejudice through super ordinate goals.

Research on group categorization has identified predictable in-group versus out-group distinctions. Groups serve functions of both survival and identity, the basis for in-group bias. The minimal group design experiments demonstrate convincingly that even trivial group membership produces significant in-group bias. Although in-group bias has been demonstrated in varying national samples, it is less prevalent in interdependent cultures. When strong attachments are felt for groups central to our values, other groups are perceived as threatening. We gain great vicarious satisfaction from reference groups which is why people identify with winning sports teams.

Social dominance theory describes society as a hierarchy of winners and losers. The tranquility of a social system is maintained by the dominant political apparatus. All dominant groups, races, or nationalities want to maintain the benefits of their position, and do not willingly yield power. Prejudice derives from the perceived threat that equality creates in a zero-sum world where the gain of one group is someone else’s loss.

People have abiding desires to be accepted by reference groups and significant others. Conformity and bigotry go hand in hand in societies where prejudicial norms are present. Prejudice is motivated by the desire to get along, and gain acceptance by valued reference groups. Traditionally, the southern parts of the US had the most prejudicial norms. However, when the norms which sustained blatant prejudice changed, so did the bigots. Blatant prejudice gave way to new norm’s which allowed for more subtle forms racism or sexism.

Institutions support prejudicial norms. Social institutions keep the targeted groups segregated or in defined menial status positions. Blacks were historically segregated in schools, in public transportation, and in public venues. They could not even get a drink of water from the same water fountain as whites. When the structure of segregation was dismantled, this was the great victory of the civil rights movement. Still today, however norms prevent fair treatment of women and minorities. Norms may be an unspoken consensus about the aptitudes and abilities of females and minority groups. Although some new norms favor integration, many problems remain in the stereotypic descriptions in the media, and the lack of appropriate role models.

Personality dynamics explain some prejudice. Through differential childrearing some people develop insecure personalities expressed in search for status and the formation of authoritarian traits. Insecure persons have a need to rank higher than others on socially valued dimensions to support their self-esteem. Typically the authoritarian person possesses punitive attitudes toward the outcasts of society. In times of social upheavals, authoritarian tendencies increase as insecurity underlies authoritarian beliefs and practices.

Social cost is an integrating concept which explains prejudice as a function of a desire to be accepted and not rejected by significant others. It is a more specific concept than normative conformity, as it explains the mechanism by which prejudice is enforced. Intimate relations have the potentially highest levels of social costs, which is probably why white parents still do not endorse interracial marriages. It is in intimate relationships that prejudice exacts the highest price in rejection by those most significant, parents and other important people. While the literature is largely silent on the relative importance of various theories of prejudice, some studies point toward social cost as an integrating concept.

The topic of social cognition and prejudice cover several important concepts. The basic idea is that people become prejudiced as a result of trying to simplify the world. It is easier to stereotype and have prepared positions about the characteristics of people. Prejudice is a consequence of simplistic thinking and relying on heuristics in recovering important information from memory. At the same time, stereotypes rob the individual of salient properties and dismiss individuality in groups.

Members of out-groups are perceived as similar, and variability in traits and abilities are disregarded. There is also evidence that stereotypic categorization also works to create more perceived similarity within the group. These heuristic shortcuts are consistent over time, and conserve intellectual energy. Stereotypes are very resistant to change. Rational appeals to reconsider stereotypic information create counterarguments and have little weight as stereotypes are largely based on emotions. Bigots accept information consistent with the stereotype, and reject inconsistent information. Biased information processing also determines interpretation of interaction. The very same event is interpreted differently depending on the stereotype. Even stereotypes of other people can affect our behavior; witness the devaluation of someone just sitting next to an obese person.

Some researchers make a distinction between explicit and implicit attitudes. Attitude scales measure explicit prejudice of which the person is aware and can self-report. In times of changing norms, the bigot may be afraid to report truthfully. Implicit measures utilize priming methods with stimulus pictures and recorded reaction time to lay bare the stereotypic consistent and inconsistent words.

Stereotypes are so resistant to change that only high quality contact and relationships are effective. The bigoted person needs to be bombarded with many examples of inconsistent information over long periods of time. Some stereotypes become automatic, and stimulate little reflection. Still some people do control their thinking when they observe contradictions between the stereotypic response and their values. Stereotypic thinking is aided by illusionary correlations when we think variables are correlated that in fact they are not. The relationship between red hair and hot temper is a common illusionary correlation. Red hair is uncommon and distinct people or events lead to these illusions.

Modern racism is based on fundamental and ultimate attribution errors. The in-group is given the benefit of the doubt, and dispositional causes are attributed to the out-group. The accumulated consequence of modern racism is stereotypic threat where members of the minority fear they will confirm the stereotype. All groups experience stereotypic fear when perceiving a competitive disadvantage during some scrutiny or examination.

How can we reduce prejudice? Some believe that more education and contact will reduce prejudice, but education is not very helpful because of the selective information processing. Research shows that only the right type of contact is helpful. Contacts leading to perception of communality as found in super ordinate goals create feelings of common destiny. A cooperative world meets the needs of its people, and will remove many sources of prejudice. The jig saw puzzle method of learning points the way toward improved intergroup relations.

Being Human. Chapter 10: Aggression: The Common Thread Of Humanity

Not a day passes without reminders of the violent world in which we live. Pick up a newspaper on any given day and you will see multiple reports of aggression at the interpersonal as well as at group or international levels. Wars continue despite efforts to make the First World War the “war to end all wars”. Genocide is committed as we write these lines in Darfur and other regions of the world despite all protestations of “never again”. It is not possible to live insulated lives as violence affects individuals, families, communities, the nation, and the international system.

Many people are keenly aware of the misery caused by aggression and are trying to change political systems to ameliorate the consequences. Thousands of Americans and Europeans have moved their protests to the streets angered by the apparent indifference of politicians in bringing the current wars, like in Iraq and the Middle-East, to an end. Today’s paper also reports on the racism (see also chapter 9) that still lurks in our societies, on school children being killed in Thailand, on plans to introduce new missile systems in Poland with radar support in the Czech republic. The Palestinians have not yet come together in a unity government and see their efforts dismissed by Israel, another chapter in that ongoing conflict. Elsewhere the police has unraveled a drug smuggling gang and found, along with money and drugs, many guns. As you read this chapter today it is probably but an average day of continued violence in the world.

Aggression stimuli can be found not only in the media, but now also consumes significant space in the ever-growing Internet. The content of violent pornography is related to violence, as we shall see later in this chapter. Video games are often vivid depictions of massive and terrible violence. Some researchers have related these stimuli to real life aggression, facilitated by the ease of obtaining guns, particularly in the United States. Daily television programming yields numerous violent episodes with nonchalant killing at the center of the action. Violent movies sell, and based on the results of social learning theory, they must have an effect on impressionable audiences.

Unlike in European countries that are less violent tens of thousands of people are murdered each year in United States. However, not only in the U.S. do we observe the phenomena of school killings, or men attacking others at their workplace. In recent years it has also happened in Germany and in The Netherlands, but with less frequency and scale compared to the US. At Columbine High School in 1999 two students turned guns and explosives on fellow students in an attack that costs several innocent lives. Their actions were an example of anger-based aggression as they went to their school with the intent and determination to hurt fellow students and staff. Similar episodes have occurred in other states (Newman, Fox, Harding, Metha, & Roth, 2004). Recently (April 16th, 2007) a 23-year old student in Virginia killed 32 people and wounded 25 others before he took his own life. A similar act of violence happened on November 7th, 2007, in Tuusula (Finland). An 18-year-old shot seven students and the headmistress inside his high school in southern Finland, before turning the gun on himself. He, calling himself Sturmgeist89’, published a manifesto online on youtube demanding war on the “weak-minded masses” and pledged to die for his cause.

The difference in violence between Europe and the United States suggests the importance of cultural values. Some societies are more acceptant of violence whereas other countries have built into social inhibitions and control of aggression cues. The stimuli of guns in many homes in America, and their indifferent use in the media, are not independent of the actual violence in society.

Daily news also provides many sad examples of more intimate violence. Child abuse is common, as are other forms of domestic violence often associated with drug and alcohol use. The fact that societies have created centers where women can escape violence speaks volumes about the prevalence of family aggression and intimate violence. Rape centers present everywhere in the Western world, also point to the prevalence of aggression in society.

Since violence is everywhere in human society and in the animal world, is there an evolutionary basis for aggression? Do we still have these biological components present in our genetic coding? Yet, the behaviors that had a survival function in our common early history are today dysfunctional. Predisposition to aggress may kill us one-by-one, or we may all die in the feared nuclear cataclysm of the future. We should remind ourselves that the carnivorous dinosaurs of the past are all gone.

1. Dimensions of aggression in the world
Although the cold war is over, the nuclear powers still possess tens of thousands of nuclear bombs that can be activated at a moments notice. Although annihilation is a singular experience the warlords of the world have ensured mutual extinction many times over. Social psychological factors play important roles in the development of military technology and strategy (e.g. Larsen, 1987). World War II took 50 million lives, but millions died before that period from other reckless wars or torture. Political leaders have not learned much as they still rely on force to reach political objectives, and millions have died since World War II. The purges of China and Eastern Europe were horrible. So too were the extermination of Native Americans in the United States and the Aboriginals of Australia by European invaders (Brown, 1971).

The death toll yearly from war and other violence is about 1.6 million persons, including at least half a million homicides (Stolberg, 2002). American society makes a significant contribution to these statistics through endless wars and domestic homicide rates. Why is American society so violent? Some explanations point to a lack of social integration. As a country of immigrants the U.S. has little history and few common denominators which taken together diminish empathy toward victims of violence. In addition to the extermination of the native population, the U.S. also engaged in slavery until the civil war, and institutionalized violence toward Blacks afterwards as we saw in chapter 9.

Further, homicides occur in impoverished areas where people have few investments in stable social relations. Violence is often associated with drug cultures where masculine pride and retaliation for any slight or insult is as certain as it is stupid. The U.S., although rich in resources, has one of the highest income disparities in the world. Poverty brings many social ills that directly or indirectly generate aggression and mortality. Finally, the U.S is the only society in the world with an irrational attachment to firearms. Hundreds of millions of firearms exist in private homes, and instead of protecting are often used to kill others in close relationships. Family or other intimate partners commit the large majority of violent crimes.

2. Two types of aggression
Aggression is defined as intentional behavior aimed at inflicting physical or emotional harm. Aggression should not be confused with assertive behavior. The willingness to stand up for one’s rights, to speak out against injustice requires assertiveness. Assertiveness is especially necessary in societies that feed on conformity. Women today are becoming more assertive, are speaking up for fair treatment, and relating to men on a more equal basis. Speaking up is assertiveness, but unless it contains hostility and the desire to injure another, it is not aggression.

It is possible to differentiate between aggression carried out with a legal and good intent on behalf of society. Police officers act in aggressive ways, often to enforce laws that protect the rest of the community. Criminals are also aggressive, and most often at a cost to society. At times police aggression is violence without cause, as in the cases of unarmed people shot for no apparent good reason. In social psychology however, most often two types of aggression are recognized: Hostile and instrumental aggression

2.1 Hostile and instrumental aggression
Berkowitz (1993) made a distinction between instrumental and hostile aggression. Hostile aggression results from feelings of anger that aim at injuring or causing pain to the target person or group. The emotion of anger is the mediating variable in this type of aggression. However, warlords are less emotional and more calculating. Wars are often fought for resources of space, and other tangential rewards. Many wars are initially fought not with hostile intent, (which comes later along with war propaganda), but to reach some goal or end purpose. Hitler’s war was for “Living space” according to his book Mein Kampf, but turned into a bitter hostile extermination campaign where dehumanizing propaganda was used to justify the action. The war in Iraq is the current example of endless wars. It was started for the instrumental purpose of removing Saddam Hussein, or perhaps for oil control, or protection of a client state of the U.S. However, the war became a hostile campaign aimed at the utter destruction of perceived enemies. It is probably fair to say that wars for the warlords are primarily instrumental, whereas for soldiers and populations they are hostile events.

So we can see it is difficult in practice to distinguish between instrumental versus hostile aggression. Most murders are probably impulsive angry acts and a form of hostile aggression. On the other hand murders committed by the mob and gangsters are often purely instrumental. The mob seeks to remove a rival, or induce terror so it can continue with criminal operations (nothing personal sir!). At the level of rationalization many wars are fought initially for instrumental purposes, but take on the nature of hostile aggression as each side seeks to justify inhumanity and denigrate the enemy.

2.2 Torture is instrumental aggression
Whether describing the recent acts of the U.S. military in the now infamous prisons, or the so-called “rendition” program of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), torture is for some end or some purpose. That is also true of the torture practiced by other proto-fascist governments of the past. The burning of witches at the stake was instrumental in that the purpose was to save their souls. The Spanish Inquisition likewise used torture as an instrumental exercise as the perpetrators were engaged in the great “loving labor” of saving souls who were devilishly afflicted. People change when they engage in torture. To rationalize torture the victim must be denigrated, and the acts must be perceived as being for some greater good. Of course some sadists or psychopaths have no need for rationalizations, as the torture chamber is their natural environment.

Even though society holds individuals responsible for behavior, we know that peers and the social context influence behaviors that some individuals would never commit without that powerful encouragement. As we have discussed in chapter 7, Abu Ghraib did not result so much from individual evil as from the predisposing social context (Fiske, Ladsana, & Cuddy, 2004). Iraq was a combat environment that predisposed the prison guards to aggression, and at the same time viewed the inmates as disgusting and unworthy of sympathy.

Other research reported in chapter 7 demonstrated the ease by which inhuman behavior is elicited by obedience to authority (e.g. Milgram, 1963; 1974), and by conformity processes (e.g. Larsen, 1972a). In combat situations conformity pressures are especially high since going along with fellow soldiers is related to individual survival. Prison guards may observe the torture committed by other soldiers, and given the social context think it is all right to behave in similar ways. In other situations, including massacres committed by suicide bombers, war crimes are socialized events resulting from conformity and obedience.

In many cases the provocations leading to genocidal actions is witnessing the killing of fellow soldiers. This experience with hostility generates anger that is transferred to a largely innocent population. Torture is a gradual process starting with apparent legitimate forms of abuse that include “waterboarding” by the U.S. Repeated acts desensitize the perpetrator, and hostility gradually includes the willingness to the kill and mutilate civilians. Contributing to these violent outcomes is the behavior of governments that justify torture of enemy prisoners. Torture is also instrumental aggression since soldiers may sincerely believe they are doing a service by punishing, killing, and otherwise eliminating groups of people that seem so deserving of that treatment.

3. Theories of aggression
Thinkers about human violence have over the years put forward several theories of aggression. Some researchers who observed the near universality of aggressive behavior pointed to biology, genetics or instincts as the primary causes of aggression. Later learning theorists based on rich research evidence suggested that aggression, like other social behaviors, is learned.

3.1 Biological and evolutionary causes
Early thinkers in psychology believed that aggressive impulses were inborn, that all humans had an instinctive aggressive trait that would find expression in behavior if not inhibited by learning (Hobbes, 1651). Much later Freud (1930) was also a proponent of instinct theory. He saw human psychology as interplay between two primary instincts: the Eros (life instinct), and the Thanatos (death instinct). From Freud’s perspective aggression and in general destructive behavior was an expression of the death instinct.

Still later Lorenz (1966) argued that we have inborn mechanisms for both aggression and the inhibition of hostility. In modern times some researchers suggest that aggression is an inherited tendency that we share with other animals, particularly primates (Potegal & Knutson, 1994). Aggression has become part of our genetic inheritance because this behavior had survival functions, including access to mates and protection of defenseless children (Buss & Kenrick, 1998).

Biology must logically play a role. The potential has to be present in biology for any behavior to occur even if biological contributions are modest (Geen, 1998). For example aggression is partly determined by the presence of the so-called male hormone testosterone (Dabbs, 1998). The neurotransmitter serotonin may also be involved in hostility and aggression is influenced by the reactivity of our sympathic nervous system (Kagan, 1989). Since aggressive behavior is prominent in some families (Miles & Carey, 1997), and remains stable within individuals across the lifespan (Huesmann & Moise, 2000), a genetic contribution can be inferred. Research by Finnish psychologists show that some species can also be bred for aggressive behavior (Lagerspetz, 1979).

Most social psychologists have viewed instinctual sources of aggression with disbelief (see e.g. Larsen, 1973; 1977a). They point to the great variability of violence in different cultures (Hornstein, 1976). Variability can however also be attributed to different cultural inhibitions, and therefore does not disprove an inborn tendency toward aggression. The near universality of aggressive behavior among vertebrates suggests a dominant survival value of at least instrumental aggression (Lore & Schultz, 1993). However, the fact that it varies by culture in humans and can be modified would suggest that it is not rigidly programmed into human nature. Still most social psychologists would emphasize the basic learned nature of human hostility (Berkowitz, 1993; Geen, 1998).

3.2 Learned aggression
From learning theory we know that people learn through reinforcement, as well as by imitation. When a person finds aggressive behavior rewarding he/she is likely to repeat it on future occasions. In the military, reinforcement consists of medals, commendations, and promotions for aggressive behavior. Aggressive behavior is also rewarded in criminal gangs by promotion to leadership, and with a greater share of the spoils.

3.2.1 Reinforcement and aggression
In some societies children, particularly boys, are rewarded for aggressive behavior. Boys are told to fight back, and not to give way to bullies. Other societies make retaliation a cultural requirement, and punish those who do not comply. In one study (Geen & Pigg, 1970) participants were reinforced verbally while participating in a study administering sham “shock” to other participants. Those who were told they were doing a “great job” subsequently shocked at significantly more intense levels. If rewards lead to increased aggression, will punishing aggressive behavior inhibit violence? The answer is no. Other studies have shown that when children are physically punished for aggression parents actually model the behavior being corrected. Therefore aggression training may produce more violent behavior away from home (Sears, Whiting, Nowlis, & Sears, 1953; Widom, 1989). Since the parents serve as models for imitation it is difficult to separate influences of reinforcement from those of social learning.

People as well as animals respond to rewards. If behavior is rewarded it is likely to be a lasting part of a person’s behavior. The bully learns that his behavior brings rewards as it produces more influence on the playground at school, and perhaps he even obtains the lunch money of frightened children. The best hockey players are the most aggressive who spend extra time in the penalty box (Patterson Littman, & Bricker, 1967; McCarthy & Kelley, 1978). The lesson of 9/11 in the U.S. shows that terrorism can be very rewarding. If the goal of 9/11 terrorism was to cause fear and chaos, the perpetrators of air piracy succeeded beyond imagination. If the long-term objective of terrorism was to embroil the U.S. in long-term warfare, create permanent difficulties in air travel, 9/11 was very rewarding to the perpetrators. If the objective also included a torn society, and rejection of the U.S. policies by much of the world, the suicidal sacrifice brought great rewards to those who planned the aggression.

3.2.2 Observational learning
Rewards are only one motivator of learned aggression. Bandura, Ross, & Ross (1961) in a classic experiment demonstrated that children learn by the simple imitation of others. Children in a Stanford University nursery school were placed in a room with an adult. The room contained Tinker Toys and a large inflatable doll. After working with the Tinker Toys for a few minutes the adult concentrated his interest on the inflated doll, and begin to abuse it in a violent fashion. The doll was hit repeatedly, kicked, and thrown about while the adult yelled aggressive encouragements to “knock the doll” down, and “kick it”. After the child had observed the adult outburst he was told that other children must now use the current toys, and he was placed in a different room with more toys that included the inflated Bobo doll and a mallet.

Comparative results showed that children who were not exposed to the adult modeling of aggression rarely picked up the mallet or hit the Bobo doll in the subsequent session. Children who were exposed, on the other hand, were more likely to aggressively attack the doll. It was as if the child had learned to be aggressive by observation, and had also learned the actual behavior of how to attack. Later (1979) Bandura identified aggressive models in the family, in gang culture, and in the mass media. Violent teenagers frequently abused as children, learned aggression by watching their parents. Sadly, many abused children would later become abusive parents themselves demonstrating the power of social learning (Bandura & Walters, 1959; Kaufman & Zigler, 1987).

Today the average child may observe many models of aggression in the movies, on television, and on the Internet. It stands to reason that when children spend many hours watching violence, the consequences may be numbing. Initial violence observed in the media may cause a negative emotional response in the child. However, over time as the child is exposed to repeatedly aggressive events, the accumulation of observed aggression produces little reaction to violence as the child is desensitized.

Also many young people cannot easily distinguish between social reality and the media world. To some degree repeated exposure affects the world-view of the observer, and observing many aggressive acts connote a fearful world of violence. In turn an aggressive worldview may function as support for continued acceptance of aggression in the media. In particular aggression on television or in the movies are often justified if committed by the “good” guy, the one wearing the proverbial white hat. These influences may distort the child’s view of the real world.

3.2.3 Violent models in the media
The average child in the U.S. will see approximately 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence by the time he finishes elementary school (Eron, 2001). Other studies have analyzed television for content as well and show that 58 percent of all programs contain violence, most without any critical comments or evaluation. When it comes to prime time television, children and adults in the United States watch 5 or 6 violent episodes for each hour of television, and about 90 percent of children’s television menu contains components of violence (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorielli, 1986). Often the violence is committed by admired and heroic figures and the aggression depicted therefore has the additional benefit of positive social sanction. On the whole, Eron and his co-workers have demonstrated high correlations between the amount of aggressive television viewed and subsequent hostile behavior (Eron, 1987; Eron, Huesmann, Lefkowitz, & Walder, 1996).

Eron & Huesmann (1984, 1985) found that viewing violence at age 8 predicted violent behavior at age 19. In another study (Huesmann, Moise-Titus, Podolski, & Eron, 2003) the investigators assessed the television habits of a large group of boys from childhood to adulthood. The researchers controlled for aggressive predisposition by examining separate groups trait aggression as the boys grew older. Holding constant for predisposition to violence at age 8, those who watched violent television were significantly more likely to commit various criminal acts when 30, compared to those who had little or moderate liking for aggressive television viewing (see also Huesmann, 1986)

The correlation between televised aggression and violent behavior can be inferred from the temporal appearance of television in the homes of United States and Canada and subsequent violence rates. The homicide rates doubled in the time period from 1957 to 1974 following the spread of violent programming. The temporal relationship between violent programming and violence in society can also be observed in several studies from South Africa and rural Canada (Centerwall, 1989; Williams, 1986).

However, it is always a problem in correlational studies to determine cause and effect. Could it be that children predisposed to violence also enjoyed watching aggressive television and later displayed aggressive behavior not caused by the television diet, but from the aggressive predisposition? While the Eron & Huesmann (1984, 1985) studies answered that objection and demonstrated cause and effect, it is also necessary to confirm the relationship by studying aggression in the laboratory. In a classic study Liebert and Baron (1972) exposed a group of children to a violent police drama, and then compared their behavior with a control group of children who saw an exciting sporting event with no violence. The violent and sports dramas both produced physiological arousal, but to what were these reactions attributed? Those children who watched the aggressive episode were later observed to be significantly more aggressive than the children exposed to the sporting drama. In another early study, juvenile delinquents who watched violent television diet were more aggressive compared to a control group (Leyens, Camino, Parke, & Berkowitz, 1981). In yet other studies, students who were deliberately angered in a laboratory study behaved more aggressively toward females afterwards (Donnerstein & Berkowitz, 1981).

Perhaps watching media violence in effect gives children as well as adults “permission” to be violent. Television violence seems to have the greatest effect on children who already had some predisposition to violence (Josephson, 1987). Watching a movie about police violence produced significantly more aggressive acts during a floor hockey game, especially among those already rated high in aggression by their teachers. The educational environment provided permissive cover for aggressive behavior as showing the film in school must have implied approval in the eyes of children. Other studies have examined children with extensive and prolonged violent television diets (Parke, Berkowitz, Leyens, West & Sebastian, 1977). The great majority of these kids had no initial predisposition to violence, but became more violent after an extended period of exposure. In a meta-analysis of 230 studies Hearold (1986) demonstrated the convergent evidence that media violence is associated with antisocial behavior. Today there is little doubt that social learning of aggression occurs in the aftermath of watching aggressive television (Cantor, Bushman, Huesmann, Groebel, Malamuth, Impett, Donnerstein, & Smith, 2001; Geen, 1998; Huesmann & Miller, 1994).

The effect of media violence on aggression has been studied further by Geen & Thomas (1986). Their findings may be summarized as follows. The aggressive media stimuli produce emotional arousal in the viewer that spills over into behavior. Once aroused the individual is motivated and energized for other behaviors. Secondly, the aggressive stimulus disinhibits the viewer. As the individual observes massive gratuitous violence over long periods, a numbing of ethics and reason takes place. In other words sustained violence disinhibits the viewer allowing for more aggression (Bushman & Geen, 1990). Finally, as discussed in section 3.2.2, the violent content of television serves as social learning models for imitation. For example, the children attacking the Bobo doll in the Bandura experiment were simply imitating what they had seen the adult model perform.

Sadly, aggressive viewing habits have lasting effects. The emotional numbing may encourage people to use violence in solving the problems of life. Exposure to constant brutality also desensitizes and distorts the social reality as demonstrated by several investigators (Cline, Croft, Courrier, 1973; Drabman & Thomas, 1976). One consequence of media distortion is excessive fear of violence that does not correspond to real dangers in society (Radicki, 1989). Media distortion causes people to arm themselves with handguns, which are also aggression cues with only one functional purpose, that of killing other human beings.

3.3 Violent video games
Video games constitute an obsessive activity for many children and young people throughout the world. About 85 percent of U.S. teenagers play these games on a regular basis (Anderson & Bushman, 2001). Significant time is devoted weekly to videos that contain a sickeningly level of violence and destruction (Roberts, Foehr, Rideout, & Brodie, 1999). Anderson & Bushman (2001) reviewed 35 studies on the effect of video violence and concluded that the games contribute to aggressive behaviors. Violent videos also have a negative effect on prosocial behaviors, as the participants in the above studies were less likely to help others or engage in altruistic behavior. The violent games increased the levels of aggressive thoughts and feelings, and produced changes in the body commonly associated with the ‘fight or flight” syndrome: increased blood pressure and heart rate.

In a typical violent video experiment, students were asked to either play the game called “Mortal Combat” or another called “PGA tournament Golf”. When the participants lost the game they were punished by a blast of white noise. Those respondents who were exposed to the violent video game gave stronger and longer blasts of white noise. As is true in the case of television violence, there is little doubt about the negative effects of violent video games for children and society (Anderson & Bushman, 2001).

3.4 Violent pornography and violence against women
Today adult “book” stores proliferate all over the Western world. In addition the Internet contain millions of images of naked women, and a significant portion of this material shows in various ways how to humiliate and aggress toward females. Learning theory would predict a relationship between viewing this material and aggression toward women including rape. Pornography at such high levels of consumption must also affect men’s world-view of women, and the role women play or should play in heterosexual relations. In fact, research shows that pornography endorses the image of sexually submissive women where the man plays the role of overpowering reluctant females (Hansen & Hansen, 1990; St. Lawrence & Joyner, 1991). Pornography also endorses the idea that the use of coercion is pleasurable for women, and thereby indirectly promotes rape. At the very least, violent pornography distorts how women actually feel about coercion.

As pornography has spread throughout the world, attacks on women have also become more frequent (Court, 1985). Even the sale of soft-core magazines like Playboy is correlated with rape rates (Baron & Straus, 1984). The presence of pornography in the background of sexual criminals is well documented (Marshall, 1989; Ressler, Burgess, & Douglas, 1988). A unanimous statement by leading scientists stated that exposure to violent pornography leads to aggressive behavior toward women (Koop, 1987). In an interview with serial killer Ted Bundy he acknowledged the habitual use of pornography. Perhaps he was also self-serving in blaming pornography and thereby diverting attention away from his own personal responsibility for his crimes. In sum, pornography causes harm to women (Russell, 1997).

But rigid sexual culture is also harmful to women. In the guise of protecting women some cultures prohibit any natural evolution of sexual relationships, and blame the victims of sexual oppression for any infraction. A recent court case (November, 2007) in Saudi Arabia that was reported in the news comes to mind. In that male dominated country, women are prohibited from leaving their houses without a male escort who is also a member of her family. The woman cannot drive in a car for example without violating these rigid taboos. In the court case mentioned above a woman was gang raped by seven men, after which the woman was given a sentence of 200 lashes and six months in prison for being in a car without a male escort of her family. In this case as in many other situations it was the victim who was blamed for the assault.

3.5 Sexual beliefs
Growing up many adolescents come to believe that women are supposed to resist and say no when they really mean yes to sexual advances (White, Donat, & Humphrey, 1995). Nearly half of the high school students in the U.S. believed that when a woman said no, she did not really mean it. These common sexual beliefs set the stage for miscommunications and date rape. Some universities have responded by requiring students to negotiate a contract prior to dating explicitly defining sexual conduct, and the limitations on their behavior. That requirement put a damper on the spontaneity of sexual behavior and was eventually discarded (Roiphe, 1994).

3.6 Violent pornography distorts the victims’ reaction
Research shows violent pornography too has a numbing effect and decreases empathy with potential victims just like the effect of watching other types of violence. Typically in erotic violence the victim’s response is distorted and out of touch with reality. If a woman is raped, she is shown smiling afterwards, and it is this response of showing sexual satisfaction that is crucial to the incidence of subsequent violence (Donnerstein & Berkowitz, 1981). Repeated exposure to violent pornography produces desensitization in much the same way as exposure to general violence leads to an acceptance of aggression. More broadly erotic violence leads to an acceptance of violence against women (Donnerstein & Linz, 1994; Weisz & Earls, 1995).

In one important study (Check & Malamuth, 1981), participants were exposed to movies displaying either erotic or nonerotic aggression in a regular theater setting. Males exposed to erotic aggression subsequently displayed more aggression toward females, whereas female participants did not accept violence against their gender. Other research showed that repeated exposure to violent erotic films produced desensitization in several ways. The violent material became more acceptable, the participants showed less sympathy for victims of rape, and displayed less support for sexual equality (Malamuth & Briere, 1986).

Taken together, these and other studies show that exposure to sexually violent material produced greater acceptance of violence against women. It stands to reason that violent erotica is also responsible for aggressive behavior toward women in real life (Dean & Malamuth, 1997). Pornographic violence serves to focus aggressive feelings toward women rather than on other more appropriate targets (Linz, Donnerstein, & Penrod, 1988). A meta-analysis of 30 studies showed conclusively that violent erotica has aggressive consequences (Allen, D’Alessio, & Brezgel, 1995). The weight of the conclusions is that the violent component of erotica had the most serious anti-social effect on subsequent aggressive behavior.

4. Culture
Cultural situations determine whether inborn tendencies are actually expressed. Aggression is therefore a function of the interplay between inborn tendencies, the inhibitions or facilitation of culture, and the particular situation in which the behavior occurs.

As already mentioned American society is among the most violent in the world. Is it in the national character for Americans to be violent, or are there other explanations? Some researchers (Daly, Wilson, & Vasdev, 2001) have provided situational explanations for the high levels of violence in the U.S. They point to the frustrations of income inequality, which is far greater in the U.S. than in comparative countries where murder rates are lower. Others have suggested that a culture sensitive to threat, called a culture of honor, is mainly responsible.

4.1 Herding societies and the culture of honor
The southern part of the United States has historically been more violent than the North. It was here that the vast majority of lynchings took place, and a large amount of other person-to-person violence. Nisbett, (1993), showed that murder rates were significantly higher in the south, a situation he attributes to a culture of pride or “honor”. Southern whites are likely to endorse violence when threatened or suffering slights or insults. Later work (Cohen, Nisbett, Bowdle, & Schwarz, 1996; Cohen & Nisbett, 1994; Nisbett & Cohen, 1996) supports the presence of a culture of “honor” preoccupied with a reputation for toughness, and an ability to retaliate swiftly against any insult or threat.

Part of the culture is also the reputed southern politeness in which people recognize that the honor of others serve as a stabilizing force in social relations. Since the politeness norm of the south of the U.S. is well understood, insults are equally salient and leave little doubts as to proper reaction. In one study (Nisbett, Polly, & Lang, 1995) the authors examined archival information for the presence of two types of murders. One type is argument-based murders that involve perceived threat to honor, like the perceived unfaithfulness of women to spouses or boyfriends. The other type of murder occurs in the course of some felony like a bank robbery. The rate for felony murders was about the same in the south and other regions of the U.S. However, argument-based murders occurred at a much higher rate in the south (Nisbett & Cohen, 1996).

Studies in the laboratory supported these regional findings of the effect of honor on aggressive responses (Cohen, Nisbett, Bowdle, & Scwarz, 1996). Confederates of the experimenter insulted the participants deliberately by bumping into the subjects when passing while whispering ”asshole”. Participants from the south, as expected, reacted more aggressively than those from the north. The researchers did not believe that regional differences in homicide were caused by the cruel history of slavery or the greater humidity in the south. Examining the historical record they noted that homicides were more common in relative cool mountain and rural areas where slavery was relatively uncommon. Nisbett & Cohen (1996) argued that the culture of honor was responsible, and is a variant of similar cultures found elsewhere in the world.

Cohen and his collaborators noted that in cultures, which historically produced a living by herding animals, people were especially sensitive to insults. As is well known from the history of warfare, groups all over the world stole or slaughtered domestic animals in raids on their enemies, and thereby destroyed the wealth of a family or community in an instant. The culture of honor developed initially as a means of protection and to discourage attack from potential enemies. Central to the culture of honor is the idea that any attack is met with swift counteraction, and insults are not tolerated. Justice delayed is justice denied. When insulted or threatened, the code of survival of people from herding societies demanded a determined and immediate response to potential violence. In these societies children are taught not to back down, to meet each challenge head on, and not allow for bullying.

Gradually over time this herding culture became part of the social fabric of immigrants who came from these societies to United States. Primarily Scottish and Irish immigrants who herded animals from primordial times settled in the southern part of the U.S. Violence in this herding context had initially survival value, but over time a sensitivity to insults became a part of culture and automatic thinking. Today there is greater support for self-defense in the south, for the use of guns, for corporal and for capital punishment than in the North (Cohen, 1996; Podell & Archer, 1994). Violence is seen as appropriate in the protection of self, but indiscriminate aggression is not endorsed (Fischer, 1989). Child training is more likely to include spanking in the south. So, by means of modeling, children also learn from their parents to settle arguments or disputes by violence. These patterns of behavior have lost their survival function in modern society, but are still valued in the social institutions of the South (Cohen, 1996).

4.2 The culture of mobs
The phenomena of imitation crimes are well known by police and other observers. Social learning also plays a role when a criminal observes the violent conduct of another and seeks to commit a similar crime. Imitation crimes were observed early in the 19th century by the sociologist Tarde (1903). He noted that newsworthy crimes often led to similar outrages in other communities. People often commit violence in mobs where they can imitate the aggression of others. The cause of mob violence is deindividuation according to Zimbardo (1970). The individual acting in groups or mobs feels less personal responsibility for his aggressive behavior. Zimbardo noted that deindividuation was partially caused by anonymity since an unknown individual cannot be held to account for his violent behavior. For example executioners and the Ku Klux Klan wore hoods to disguise appearance, and thereby became anonymous to victims and observers of the violence. Deindividuation is also caused by diffusion of responsibility since the individual feels less personal responsibility when the violence is committed with many others. The more people who are present at decision making meetings the less the sense of individual responsibility. The acts of lynch mobs are thought possible because no single person is held responsible for the murder (Watson, 1973; Mullen, 1986).

The difference between advising participants to aggress and actually “shocking” someone was investigated in an experiment (Gaebelein & Mander (1978). Those subjects whose role was confined to advising on how much shock to administer recommended much higher levels of shock, compared to those who actually did the shocking. A similar diffusion of responsibility occurs in mob lynchings (Mullen, 1986). In examining 60 lynchings in the U.S. the investigator discovered that the larger the mob the more brutal the murder and mutilation of the victim. Being in a large mob decreases personal responsibility, and whatever happens can be blamed on others. This group-produced enhancement of negative behavior was observed in another study employing shock. When a group of respondents were angered and given the opportunity to shock, they as a group administered much higher levels of shock compared to the shock administered by the single respondent (Jaffe & Yinon, 1983). Something happens to the sense of personal responsibility when people act in groups that lead to higher levels of hostility and violent behavior.

The size of the group also matters, as noted the larger the mob the greater the deindividuation. Racial riots in the United States and elsewhere demonstrate how large groups engage in indiscriminate violence and atrocities toward members of other groups with whom they have no personal relationship. The effect of deindividuation can also be observed in violent warfare where individual responsibility is disguised by the wearing of uniforms, and utilizing face or body paint.

Human history shows that it is much easier for old men to command young men to go to war, than to serve themselves in the front lines. Often the leading members of governments who are most bellicose risk no members of their own family. Since none are serving in the armed forces they sustain no personal risks from their aggressive actions and decisions. Groups create problems in risk taking by diffusing the responsibility for any action.

5. Gender and aggression
In all societies studied males have been found to be more aggressive, with only a few exceptions, like the Trobianders (Benedict, 1935). Men commit nearly all violence associated with gangs and criminal activity (Kimmel, 2004). Eighty percent of those arrested in the U.S. for murder are men, as are 87 percent of those confined in prison for aggravated assaults. One has only to watch children at play to observe gender differences in aggression from the very earliest moments of social interaction.

5.1 Evolution and male aggression
The higher level of male aggression is most likely an evolutionary adaptation in the struggle for survival. In the early period of human development women were gatherers of food, and protectors of children. Men on the other hand had the task of killing animals for food, and engaging in combat to protect the family or tribe. Male aggression was often instrumental in obtaining women from enemy tribes, and often included the rape of women and the murder of their male protectors. According to evolutionary theory, rape was expressed historically as an unconscious drive to secure the survival of one’s gene pool, and in the domination of others. The rape of women in warfare initially served these biological purposes (Thornhill & Thornhill, 1983). Like all human behaviors, that adaptation was modified and changed by social institutions, although never in warfare.

Women also express aggression in varying circumstances. Females express hostility in relationships through the use of gossip, by forming cliques and alliances, and by excluding the unworthy (Coie, Cillessen, Dodge, Hubbard, Schwartz, Lemerise, & Bateman, 1999; Dodge & Schwartz, 1997). Girls can be emotionally vicious, and put a high price on in-group status. A meta-analysis shows that men are much more physically aggressive than women, but the differences in behavior is narrowed when the behavior is provoked (Bettencourt & Miller, 1996). Men will in ordinary circumstances be more aggressive than females. For example, men are primarily responsible for road rage incidents. However, when women are subject to extraordinary frustration or insults, they also act aggressively. Have the gender role changes that have occurred over the past several decades produced a convergence of male and female aggressive behavior? Males still primarily commit violent crimes, whereas property crime rates have increased for women (Wilson & Hernstein, 1985; Chapple, McQuillan, & Berdahl, 2005).

Aggressive behavior is not consistent with most women’s ideal self-concept. When women commit aggressive acts they feel more guilt and anxiety (Eagly & Steffen, 1986). The gender difference holds in different cultural contexts as males express more aggression than females across different societies (Archer & McDaniel, 1995). Culture made a contribution to levels of hostility however, as women living in either Australia or New Zealand displayed more aggression than female respondents from Sweden or Korea.

5.2 Evolution and violence in close relationships
The pattern of gender related violence has led evolutionary psychologists to offer explanations pointing to the survival functions of violence. As noted in the preceding section they contend that violence is unconsciously motivated by the desire to pass on one’s own genes and those of close relations. To observe the power of genes in relationships we have only to observe the outcome of divorce (Daly & Wilson, 1996). Typically after a divorce, the in-law member of the family has no more status. Despite a previous harmonious history of supportive in-law relations, divorce is typically not only between marriage partners, but also between families. Common offspring often become objects in a contest to control childrearing where the child’s interest and desire of having two parents come second to each partners selfish wish to be in charge.

5.2.1 Genes and the treatment of stepchildren
“Blood” matters at the end of the day, as daughters move home to their parents, and most links of affection are broken. Being a blood related or not is also significant to the domestic violence experienced by the child. Typically stepchildren are treated worse than natural offspring. We have in the literature many tales of the wicked stepmother, who feels little or no compassion for the children of her husband. Men likewise treat the offspring of other men with less care, or with violence (Daly & Wilson, 1996; Wilson, Daly, & Weghorst, 1980). It is costly to be a parent, and evolutionary psychologists assert that parental love is unconsciously motivated toward ensuring the survival of one’s own genetic pool. Looking after stepchildren makes no contribution to genetic survival. Stepchildren suffer higher frequency of mistreatment and more severe violence from stepparents (Daly & Wilson, 1996).

Relations between stepparents and children are more distant and complicated (Hobart, 1991). One of us had the experience of meeting a group of cousins he had never met before. At the end of an evening of family solidarity someone commented that it is “like we have known you all our lives”. Common genetic pool creates interests in family relations even when people are strangers. On the other hand stepchildren fare poorly. Daly and Wilson (1996) showed that they were 100 times more likely to suffer lethal violence by stepparents than genetic children. You might think this is due to some other factor in families that have stepchildren? However, the studies cited controlled for poverty, the number of children, and the inexperience and youth of the mother.

5.2.2 Males and the culture of honor
Men kill other men much more frequently than women kill women (about 20 times more frequently). Most male homicides occur after relative small disagreements that spin out of control (Mulvihill, Tumin, & Curtis, 1969). Why would men risk their lives for comparative trivial reasons? Remember our discussion of the “culture of honor”? These small arguments are not trivial in an evolutionary sense since they concern prestige and status that in turn are related to access to females (Daly & Wilson, 1988). Women generally don’t find it difficult to pass off their genes by attracting partners, but some men are left out, particularly where society approves of polygamous marriages. Is lack of availability of females an evolutionary reason for the greater promiscuity of males, a behavior we also observe among the chimpanzee, our closest animal relatives? Evolutionary psychologists would maintain that part of the aggression equation must include the desire to ensure survival of one’s gene pool to which male killing of other males made a contribution in our distant past.

Other factors may contribute, but are not easily separated from evolutionary explanations. A higher level of testosterone in males contributes to aggression, but is that hormone not part of the evolutionary adaptation? A sexist society may also be accepting of male dominance and control of women, which leads to higher levels of violence (Eisenstat & Bancroft, 1999). We have examples of “honor” societies where daughters are murdered by their parents for contemplating unions with a nonapproved male. But is that not also just another expression of the evolutionary demand to control the genetic pool? One conclusion is certain. Evolutionary psychology can explain, but cannot remove individual responsibility for contemptible acts of violence against women. Further, the changing cultural levels of aggression suggest that evolution cannot explain all forms of aggression, and that socialization must play a role. As we shall see other factors are also important in predicting aggressive behavior.

6. Frustration and aggression
Initially social psychologists believed that all frustration led to aggression (Dollard, Doob, Miller, & Sears, 1939). Early experiments showed that the more satisfaction that was anticipated the greater the frustration when thwarted. Also when a person is frequently prevented from realizing goals the frustrations accumulate over time. If frustrations occur when the goal is in sight the frustration is experienced more intensely (Miller, 1941).

A classic experiment (Barker, Dembo, & Lewin, 1941) demonstrated the frustration-aggression process among small children. The children were placed in a room where they were separated from attractive toys by a wire screen. In the control conditions the children were allowed to play with the desirable toys immediately. The children in the frustrated group were required to wait and were subsequently more destructive and aggressive toward the toys.

In another study Harris (1974) examined the frustration experienced as a function of how close to the goal the respondent was before being frustrated. An experimental collaborator was instructed to cut in front of others waiting for tickets to theaters, or entrance to restaurants. More anger was expressed if the cutting in front occurred when those waiting were almost ready to buy tickets or enter the restaurant. When the confederate cut into the second place and the next person was almost ready to purchase, the frustration experienced was more intense compared to when the confederate cut in front further down the line. One of us had a similar experience when being delayed by customs he sought to cut in front of the security lines in order to make the next flight. As it turned out the couple he cut in front of had also been delayed, and were in danger of not making their flight. It took much diplomacy to explain and apologize, and allow them to proceed while securing a place in the front.

The frustration-aggression hypothesis asserts that a person experiencing interference or blocking of goal related behavior reacts with the emotion of anger. Emotion of anger is the mediating variable between frustration and aggression (Geen, 1998). One reason that people resort to aggression is that it reduces negative emotions temporarily (Bushman, Baumeister, & Phillips, 2001). There are many sources of frustration in modern life. Family life is frustrating as people’s expectations rarely match reality. That assertion holds true for emotional satisfaction in families, but also for the economic frustrations derived from the struggle to survive. Many families fight to survive in competitive societies. The lack of meaningful social security in some countries is experienced as stressful, and leaves many families angry (Strauss, & Gelles, 1980).

Frustrations related to the economy accumulate, and people may vent their anger on innocent targets (Catalano, Novaco, & McConnell, 1997). Some of the displaced targets are personal to the aggressor leading to child abuse or spousal violence. Some acts of aggression are more impersonal and targets people who are not known to the perpetrators. Hovland and Sears (1940) provided a dramatic example when they correlated the price of cotton in the south with the number of lynchings perpetrated on black people. Whenever the price of cotton dropped, the southern economy suffered and the anger was displaced toward totally innocent targets.

Job related frustrations have led to dramatic shootings at various locations in the U.S. in recent years. Many people work in jobs that are much less than satisfying, putting in time just to survive. In the world economy, many students graduate with higher skills, yet the society is unable to provide jobs where these skills can be utilized. Often workers experience pressure from managers to improve performance. Frustrations are produced by the discrepancies between the expectations of workers and the leadership of the economic unit. Together, job related frustrations are related to the anger felt by many people in our modern societies (Houston & Kelly, 1989). In the current era of global capitalism frustrations accumulate as many workers have lost their jobs to cheaper labor from elsewhere. Workers have historically fought back, and recognized the importance of international unions since capitalism knows no border, and is not motivated by patriotism. However, this struggle has become more difficult as unions have lost members, and poor workers from elsewhere are happy for any jobs even those that exploit their labor. In such times of economic crisis national leaders may seek to divert attention by waving the flag and focusing on external enemies.

6.1 Aversive events and frustration
Any aversive event has the capacity to elicit frustration and aggressive responses. Many events fall into this category including prolonged pain, humiliation, perceived insults, fatigue and hunger. Have you noted how easy anger is brought on when you are hungry? Depriving the body of food will bring anger and aggression in some form. Berkowitz & Troccoli (1990) showed that producing pain in a person for as little as six minutes produced aggressive responses. Anything, which the individual perceives as aversive, may trigger hostility in the form of anger responses, or instrumental behavior seeking to change the situation.

6.2 The influence of heat
People are comfortable within specified ranges of temperatures. Hot temperatures are experienced as frustrating and cause violence (Rotton & Cohn, 2000). Attribution matters since the anger may again be displaced toward innocent targets. Feeling the discomfort of high temperatures, some people will call on well-established aggressive schemas and vent their anger on family or other interpersonal targets (Anderson, Deuser, & DeNeve, 1995).

Are our moods and feelings related to weather changes? We see retired people move south in search of more sun in the winter and more agreeable temperatures. Our language provides examples of beliefs in the relationship between heat and aggression. Anger produces a change in body temperatures that we refer to as being “steamed”, or being “hot under the collar”.

There is something about the discomfort of excessive heat and its effect on aggressive behaviors (Anderson, 1987, 1989). The evidence shows clearly that higher temperatures are correlated with higher violence rates. Examining the crime rates in American cities, Anderson noted that the number of days where temperatures exceeded 32 degrees Celsius was a strong predictor of violent crime. Other studies show that violent crime is more likely to occur during the hot and humid summer months. An ingenious study on heat and aggression looked at the number of times baseball pitchers intentionally hit batters as aggressive acts. As the weather gets hotter the batters are hit with increased frequency (Reifman, Larrick, & Fein, 1991).

Another study examined students who responded to a survey in a room where the thermostat was set at 32 degrees Celsius, compared to another group who completed the survey at normal room temperature. Those who responded in the heated room reported more irritability and aggressive feelings. Other studies have linked heat to retaliation proclivity (Rule et al, 1987).

6.3 Attribution and aggression
Why is heat related to aggression? One explanation is that heat is aversive and therefore frustrating and this leads to the emotion of anger and hostile behavior. Another explanation emerges from attribution theory. Perhaps we feel physiologically aroused by the heat and look for the best explanation for the bodily changes. One available target for attribution in the above mentioned baseball study was the batter on whom the anger was displaced. Attributions also contribute to the victimization of innocents by lynch mobs. Though innocent, victims are dehumanized and attributed traits that threaten social values and are therefore deserving of the violence. Attribution processes are responsible for the dehumanization that often accompanies mob violence. To facilitate mob violence the victim is attributed subhuman traits as Hitler and his cronies did effectively with the Jews, communists, Gypsy’s, and in general with all who opposed the state. However, we do not have to go that far back in history as current affairs show ample examples of the effect of dehumanization. Rwanda, Darfur, the former Yugoslavia all come to mind as arenas of violence justified by dehumanization. Recent research on “infrahumanization” instigated by Belgian social psychologists show that people are less prone to ascribe “higher” emotional qualities to out-groups than they are to in-groups, implying “they” are not as human as “us” (Leyens, Demoulin, Dovido, Fiske, Gaun, et al., 2003).

6.4 Retaliation
When we are attacked, other matters being equal, we will retaliate (Dengerink & Myers, 1977). Many studies on attack have used “shock” experiments to examine aggression in the laboratory. When the respondent perceives attacks as being intentional the result is retaliating behavior. Life teaches us in other ways that retaliation is a common human reaction to aggression. Retaliation is often used as a rationalization for going to war, or justifying attacks on others. Research (Dengerik & Myers, 1977) shows that aggression is frequently retaliatory, an “eye for an eye”. Although cautioned by religion to turn the other cheek, most people are more motivated by rage or anger, and seek to give back in kind. Whether retaliation is culturally derived or emerges from basic biological needs to survive, attack brings counteraction where possible.

There are many social situations that discourage direct retaliation. Some attackers, for example, are too powerful, and have a great potential to counteract in return, which discourages retaliation. In other words, retaliation is limited by the power of the other party, and the nature of the relationship.

6.5 Crowding and aggression
Crowding is a psychological concept. It differs from physical density that refers to the number of people living together according to some standard measurement. Crowding is the subjectively stressful feeling derived from having insufficient space. The same physical density that produces stress in Western countries, will not necessarily be experienced as crowding in Asia or other high physical density areas (Hall, 1966). Culture provides people with compensation for crowding through the use of elaborate norms of courtesy that reduce stress in the higher density areas. Regardless of these cultural differences, tolerance for density has limits and will eventually be experienced as stress.

The loss of control experienced in crowding produces aggressive reactions. Crime rates are much higher in inner city areas with higher population densities (Fleming, Baum, & Weiss, 1987; Kirmeyer, 1978). As biological beings there must be a balance in our space between privacy and interaction with others. When that balance is in doubt, the result is striking out with aggressive behavior or violent crime.

6.6 Economic wealth and frustration
Since we live in a material world perhaps an increase in wealth would reduce frustration and make us happy? Many people think that just an additional 10 to 20 percent in income would improve well-being and happiness (Strumpel, 1976). People in the Western world are raised with the idea that money buys happiness. Observe the jubilation of contestants on television when winning a prize; one would think money bought instant happiness! In the United States in and several other industrial countries, people have experienced growing but inequitable affluence over several decades. Yet the economic wealth is often accompanied by personal or family unhappiness as seen in our divorce statistics. (Knowles, 1977). Our society manifests visible inequalities between the wealthy and those struggling to survive. While poverty is not a great thing, who can say honestly that wealth equates to happiness?

Frustration is not the same as deprivation. Living in a competitive society, rich people are frustrated by those whose wealth is greater. Look at the phenomena of the continuously larger homes built for the wealthy all over the world. When two people live in a house with 20 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, we know that the size of the home means something more than meeting the housing needs of the occupants. The size of homes reflects the status of the wealthy and is a form of conspicuous consumption. Once wealth becomes a focus in life, nothing is ever enough. But are those who live in the large mansions any happier or less frustrated than those at the lower end of the income distribution (Diener & Seligman, 2004)?

People are constantly comparing upwards, so it is not absolute deprivation that matters, but the envy derived from those who have and display more wealth (Suls & Tesch, 1978). The feelings of relative deprivation cause frustration and anger (Wood, 1989). Minority groups feel relative deprivation as the media, travel, and simple observation makes the wealth of those who consume conspicuously more salient. Protests calling for social change emerge out of feelings that one’s group is relatively deprived compared to others (Walker & Mann, 1987). When television came into use in poor homes and displayed the conspicuous wealth of the rich, crime rates increased dramatically (Hennigan, Del Rosario, Health, Cook, Wharton, & Calder, 1982). Television soaps and other popular programs are not recorded in the homes of average people, but typically those of the wealthy. As a result wealth becomes a standard for comparison, and when people are unable to live like the rich they feel relatively deprived and frustrated.

Global warming and associated problems are produced by the desire for conspicuous accumulation. For the survival of society it is time to adjust downward in standard of living. Consumption is not only conspicuous, but threatens the very survival of the planet. We need comparison levels of wealth that are sustainable over the long run. In other arenas people have learned to adjust downward, and still experience human contentment.

For example people with severe handicaps adapt to the changing circumstances of their lives and still feel life satisfaction (Chwalisz, Diener, & Gallagher, 1988; Schulz & Decker, 1985). When people realize that there are always situations worse than where they find themselves in life, they feel less depressed (Gibbons & Gerrard, 1989). Since relative deprivation exists in the world, we must learn to enhance downward. Unless you live in Darfur or places where AIDs is destroying individual or community life, you are not experiencing the worst frustration possible. Downward enhancement removes frustration for many, while many others look upward to relative deprivation for the motivation to cure social injustice.

6.7 Attribution of intent to harm: How we construe the situation
It is not stimuli that produce aggression, but how we think about the stimuli, and the intent we attribute to others. It is whether the behavior is construed as intentionally harmful that produces aggression (Worchel, 1974).

We have all experienced someone inadvertently frustrating our efforts. If the behavior is construed as not intentional, and the person apologizes, most of us will not take great affront. But let us examine another situation. An attack on a bartender who refused to serve drinks to an inebriated customer was in the news today. The customer took umbrage at the refusal of service, which he perceived as an insult, and attributed to the bartender. For the bar employee, her attribution about the customer’s behavior was based on his violation of laws she was required to enforce as part of her employment. Perhaps she was also concerned about the well-being of the customer and the public when she refused service. The drunken customer attributed motives of insult to the bartender that resulted in a vicious attack. As is well known alcohol reduces a person’s ability to construe the ramifications of behavior, and often contributes to the attribution of hostile intent. So the motives and the intentions attributed to the other person (in this case the bartender) determine whether a person is angered and retaliates (Reeder, Kumar, Hesson-McInnis, & Trafimov, 2002). In other words anger is more likely if the frustration is perceived as intentional, and not the consequence of some situational factor. If a car does not move when the traffic light turns green, people behind the car will begin to honk their horns. We believe the car is under the control of the driver, and if he does not move, it must be because of intent to stay put. When we believe behavior is under another person’s internal control, we attribute responsibility for frustration to that person (Betancourt & Blair, 1992).

Most people do not retaliate if they are convinced that the provocation was not intentional (Kremer & Stephens, 1983). At times we are in situations where we do not know the intent. Once an irate car driver whom a friend of ours had inadvertently cut in front of, jumped out of his car to confront our friend aggressively. The truth was that the driver drove with such speed that our friend had not seen him, and the provocation was not intentional. This driver was not to be consoled by that fact, as he had already construed the provocation as intentional arrogance. So mitigating circumstances must be known before the incident, or it will have little effect. Johnson & Rule (1986) study showed that it mattered if an explanation was offered when a confederate treated students rudely. Some respondents were told the assistant was upset after receiving a low grade, others were offered no reason. Those participants offered this explanation did not attribute hostility to the confederate as the frustration of getting a low grade explained his behavior. Subsequently, the respondents that were offered an explanation were less angered and aggressive at the confederate’s rude behavior.

A car accident that is perceived as nonintentional will produce less aggression. However, if the accident is seen as a result of deliberate carelessness, or hostile intent, or otherwise unjustified, the attribution of intent contributes to aggressive behavior (Averill, 1973). Situations contribute to behavior as they are construed. The thwarting of goal realization may be perceived as intentional or nonintentional. It is the attribution that matters.

Furthermore, expectations matter in the construal of the situation. In one study (Kulik & Brown, 1979) students were hired to work on commission trying to motivate people to give money to a charity. Some participants were led to believe that contributions would be easy to obtain, and that the rate of positive responses would be high. Others were told to expect less success, and more difficulty in getting donations. The group with the high expectations was more aggressive when confronted with people who did not want to donate. They would speak harshly or slam down the phone more frequently than the solicitors whose expectations were low. So frustrations do not provoke aggression, but rather it is the anger that follows the construal of the situation. The situation must be construed in a way that anger and aggression is possible (Berkowitz, 1989; Gustafson, 1989).

People who want to avoid unpleasant reactions avoid provocations. If you are stopped for a traffic infraction, your response to the police officer is likely to be instrumental in order to avoid too large a fine. You could be hostile considering the potential fine, but that would not be smart. Most of us have automatic and intuitive construal of which reactions would be provocative, what behaviors would step over the line and cause an aggressive response. In one experiment (Baron, 1988), the participants were required to prepare an advertisement for a new product. The advertisement was subsequently criticized using either gentle or harsh feedback. When the criticism was gentle, with consideration for the feelings of the respondent, the response was muted. However, when the respondents were treated harshly (this advertisement is the worst I have ever seen) the respondents were far more likely to retaliate.

Some provocations cannot be avoided. The drunken customer to whom we referred in the beginning of this section (who by the way was an off duty police officer) could not be avoided; his attributions were clouded by intoxication. Could the bartender have offered a more gentle rejection? Would the customer have been less angered if offered a cup of coffee on the house? Perhaps a gentle response would have worked and changed the attributions. On the other hand, maybe attempts at conciliation would have made no difference in the customer’s drunken state. In sum, the attribution of intent is what matters in aggression.

6.8 Criticisms of the frustration-aggression hypothesis
Berkowitz (1993) showed that stimuli other than frustration contributed to aggression including pollution, crowding (see section 6.4.1), and pain (Rotton & Frey, 1985). Also, as noted some aggression is not based on anger, but is instrumental in reaching a valued goal. Olweus studied student behavior in Norwegian schools (1979; 1980) and found that bullies sought to dominate weaker opponents primarily in an effort to achieve status.

The assumption of the frustration-aggression hypothesis is that frustrations always lead to aggression. This position has been criticized in several ways. People who live in tyrannical dictatorships learn helplessness and resign themselves to their frustrations. The very poor and oppressed moreover feel helpless in construing another way of living. The concept of learned helplessness (Seligman, 1975) asserts that when animals and people cannot avoid aversive conditions they do not respond to frustration with aggression, but rather with passivity or depression. Like the dogs facing unavoidable shock in Seligman’s experiment, the severely oppressed learn they have no control over the outcomes of their lives. Learned helplessness includes the belief that behavior will not change circumstances or frustrations. In other words, people respond to frustrations not only with aggression, but also with resignation.

Whether frustration leads to aggression depends on several factors including the emotion of anger. In turn people’s anger depends on attributions of the other party’s intent to provoke. Anger is associated with our perceptions of the perpetrators responsibility, and the feelings of being treated unjustly and therefore wanting revenge. Some aversive events contribute to the construal of anger (Berkowitz, 1989, Berkowitz & Troccoli, 1990).

In turn, anger is not the sole condition leading to aggression, as cognitive processes (and attribution is a cognitive process) also intervene. Perhaps you have found yourself in an unpleasant situation at work and felt angry. You feel a lack of appreciation for your efforts, the boss has provided no pay increases for some time, and has attributed poor work performance to what you consider your best efforts. However, you are fearful of the consequences if you speak up that the boss may retaliate with anger and aggression. The anger you feel might be more safely displaced toward a convenient target. Safer targets less likely to retaliate include spouses or children. They in turn may displace their anger on the dog; the dog goes after the cat, and the cat after the mouse. Many frustrating events do not lead directly to aggression depending on the construal of the power of the other party to retaliate. These intervening variables all point to the importance of construal processes in mediating between frustration and aggression.

6.9 The revolution of rising expectations and the construal of thwarted expectations
Frustration is not the same as deprivation. People living in poverty are extremely deprived, but as we have seen may respond with depression or resignation and not with frustration. The riots in the United States in the 1960’s however, were the consequence of rising expectations of a better life, and not absolute deprivation (Frank, 1978). The most serious events did not occur in the areas of greatest poverty, but in areas where the conditions were comparatively better. The cause of the riots was not absolute deprivation, but pervading feelings of maltreatment among the minorities. What mattered in these riots was the construal of injustice by the Black community that is received less than the deserved outcome in life. When riots occurred it was because there were no other acceptable attributions of responsibility for the deprivations felt by most members of the minority community. Living in the age of television, Black people understood that others lived better, and furthermore the Black population did not resign themselves to the unequal treatment. Levi (1989) also noted the role of relative deprivation in the resistance of concentration camp prisoners. The prisoners who were less deprived and who had the time and possibility of opposing the Nazi’s, were leaders of the camp resistance. In one rebellion the camp tailors who made clothes for the guards, and were somewhat useful to the Nazi’s and therefore privileged, provided the means of rebellion and escape.

7. Violence as consequences of aggression cues
We are bombarded every day with media violence, and aggression related stimuli are everywhere in western society. When aggression cued objects like guns are present in social interaction, does that increase the likelihood of violence? In Europe and countries that practice gun control, aggression cues are a matter of less concern. In the United States, however, there are hundreds of millions of handguns present in homes, in gangs, as well as among criminals. A classical experiment (Berkowitz & Le Page, 1967) studied handguns as aggression cues. As part of the procedure a confederate angered student participants. In the experimental condition, a handgun was present and left conveniently in sight. In the control condition a neutral object, a badminton racket, was left lying around. After being angered, the participants were asked to participate in a study that involved the application of electric “shock” to other participants. The results showed that those who were angered in the presence of a gun applied more intense shock than participants in the neutral condition (Frodi, 1975; Turner & Leyens, 1992). This study verified the importance of the presence of guns as aggression cues.

Although the gun lobby in the United States has had success with it’s slogan “guns don’t kill, people do”, these experiments show that guns can be the stimulus to violence, and handguns as aggression cues go a long way in explaining the high murder rate in the U.S. Where handguns are banned as they are in Europe, comparative results demonstrate lower rates of violence (Archer & Gartner, 1984). Guns become part of the schemas of children growing up in the U.S., along with a higher expectation of violence (Archer, 1994; Archer & McDaniel, 1995).

If aggression were elicited by aggression cues like handguns, a rational society would seek to limit the availability of these means of destruction. Jamaica in 1974 fought violent crime by enacting strict gun control as well as censoring violent gun scenes from television and movies robberies. As a consequence violent acts dropped by 25 percent, and nonfatal shootings by 37 percent. The presence of guns is a serious liability for American society with tens of thousands of murders each year, and an influential gun lobby that interprets the second amendment in the Constitution to include all guns. Some of the gun supporters would buy tanks or rockets for personal home defense if that were possible.

If black is associated with violence, black clothing can also be an aggression cue. At one point the (American) football team at the Oregon State University changed the colors of uniforms from orange to black. It did not improve their game, but the players became much more aggressive. In fact research shows that black clothing is associated with aggression (Frank & Gilovich, 1988). Teams who wore black uniforms were consistently more aggressive in the National Football and National Hockey Leagues. In general anything associated with violence has the potential of providing aggression cues.

7.1 Drugs and alcohol intensify perceived insults.
The use of drugs and alcohol contributes to a large proportion of aggressive acts. Mind alternators reduce the inhibition of aggression that is coded in our biological inheritance, and also the inhibition we have learned from family and society. Sixty percent of all murders in the U.S. are committed while the offender is intoxicated. A high proportion of other violent behavior is also committed while under the influence including rape, child abuse, general assaults, and spousal violence (Lisak & Roth, 1988; Steele & Southwick, 1985).

Alcohol also increases sensitivity to perceived slights or insults that typically contribute to aggression (Taylor & Sears, 1988). We already saw that sensitivity manifested (see section 6.7) in the example of the attack on the bartender who refused to serve drinks to an inebriated consumer. The drunken aggressor attributed nonintentional infractions as a threat or as having hostile intent.

Sober people on the other hand are better able to evaluate the intent of any provocation. Since aggression is likely to bring retaliation, people not under the influence can better evaluate that reality. Is the temporary satisfaction that aggression accrues worth the broken bones, loss of life, arrest and prison that are likely consequences of violence? The drunken aggressor loses inhibitions and attends less to these life-altering consequences of aggression (Zeichner & Pihl, 1979).

Furthermore, alcohol also increases the effect of social pressure. Often violence is carried out in gangs where perpetrators commit acts of violence because “it seemed the thing to do’. Reports of groups of young men attacking totally innocent victims occur not infrequently in the media. Most recently U.S. media reported on teenage gangs attacking the homeless, maiming and in some cases killing these defenseless people.

7.2 Schemas for aggression
As for other salient aspects of life, people have constructed schemas (see also chapter 4) related to aggression. Aggression schemas are organized beliefs about when aggression is appropriate, and define the situations that are cues for hostility. A child that grows up throwing temper tantrums may come to consider that behavior as appropriate. People who are sensitive to status concerns feel that small insults to the self-concept are sufficient justification for retaliation. We recall the “culture of honor” previously described, where seemingly small provocation can result in severe retaliatory responses. Once we develop schemas for aggression they tend to be self-sustaining and we act in ways that maintain justifications (Huesmann, 1998; Huesmann & Guerra, 1997).

Aggression schemas work together with attributions of intent (Zelli, Dodge, Lochman, & Laird, 1999). Children who have stable aggression schemas possess selective attributions that the intent of others is hostile. Culture plays a role for the aggression schemas or the combination of aggression schemas and attributions of intend (Bond, 2004). Middle-east societies dictate revenge as necessary behavior when threatened or in retaliation. The mutually assured destruction in the civil war between Shia and Sunni Muslim sects is largely a consequence of a culture of revenge, where hostility is attributed to all acts of the other side, and the term innocent has lost it’s meaning.

Because of schemas aggression tends to be stable across human development (Olweus, 1979). Schemas become stable attitudes when aggression becomes acceptable as a solution for a variety of problems (Larsen, 1971). As a stable personality trait aggression can predict a variety of behaviors related to human adjustment. Aggression predicts dropout rates from school and criminal behavior (Hudley & Graham, 1992). Chronically aggressive children believe that others have hostile intent. This attributional bias affects the construal of all interactions. An attributional bias that anticipates hostility may in fact cause retaliatory responses (Graham, Hudley, & Williams, 1992). Aggressive minority youth have biased attributions, feel more anger, and are more likely to retaliate compared to nonaggresive minority youth. These attributions occur without the need for provocation or anger and are based on stable schemas and attitudes that contribute to ongoing aggression.

7.3 Schemas and school shootings
We began the present chapter pointing to school violence as a serious problem in the U.S., and in other countries. School shootings and resulting fatalities suggest that this is a problem that society cannot afford to overlook. In the U.S. hundreds of thousands of youth are affected by violence each year; many students carry guns to school for protection or for aggressive purposes. Gangs that inculcate violence as an acceptable norm have enrolled many hundreds of thousands of young people in the U.S. (Egley & Major, 2004). Although not as severe, violent youth culture is also present in Europe and other parts of the world.

The school system has a significant effect on violence among young people. Bullies who are allowed to dominate and isolate their victims contribute to school shootings. Other important contributors include the family context, the presence or absence of aggression in the home, being members of gangs, the abuse the child has suffered in the past, and the use of alcohol and drugs in the social context. Access to lethal weapons is possible nearly everywhere in the U.S., but thankfully less so in other countries. Some neurological disorders may also contribute to violence, including hyperactivity (Sleek, 1998). School shootings are unnerving to parents and society since they seem to be unpredictable. In the aftermath, other students however recognize bullying as a factor, and anger of the shooters at being excluded. Most acts have occurred in rural areas, perhaps because urban areas are more acceptant of kids who are different (Newman, 2004).

The reduction of violence in schools requires the development of novel ideas that combine efforts of inclusion of all children and cooperation in the classroom. The jig saw puzzle classroom previously discussed in chapter 9 is an effort in that direction (Aronson & Gonzales, 1988). Working together in small groups where each student is dependent on others for learning has proven useful in integrating students and improving learning. Aggression in schools remains a serious problem that needs more scholarly attention (Baron & Richardson, 1994).

8. How do we reduce aggression in society?
Social psychologists have, through research, sought to understand how to reduce violence using a variety of strategies. Some strategies for violence prevention have borrowed from relevant theories including learning theories. Other approaches have emerged from an understanding that what causes aggression may also contribute to prevention. Some approaches assert that nonviolence will only become real when we can feel empathy, and learn to communicate, to negotiate and to compromise.

8.1 Punishment and social learning
Is punishment the solution to aggression in schools and society? Criminal law is based on the utility of both punishment and reform. In families parents seek to effect a change in a child by punishing the aggressive behavior. Typical aggression training involves a parent spanking the child for hitting another child. What does the child learn from that? Remember the parent is also a model for imitation, as we know from social learning theory. Likewise society is a model when it collectively executes people and thereby justifies the very behavior for which the criminal is put to death. Research endorses the effectiveness of social learning modeling. Children of parents employing physical punishment are more accepting of violence (Vissing, Straus, Gelles, & Harrop, 1991). So since punishment models the behavior we are trying to prevent it might not be the solution to aggression for children.

While severe punishment has little utility in changing the child’s aggressive behavior, milder forms of child training may make violence less appealing (Aronson & Carlsmith, 1963; Freedman, 1965). Extensive studies in Norway (Olweus, 1991; 1995; 1997) showed the usefulness of mild punishment combined with educational efforts in changing bullying at Norwegian schools. Bullying was considered an important issue by the Norwegian government, and it was believed that parents had little information on the frequency of intimidation and consequences for their children and others in the school system. Successful change occurred after community meetings explaining the issue. Classes discussed ways of how to overcome bullying, and how to reach lonely or excluded kids. Teachers and administrators worked together to stop intimidation. If bullying still occurred, counselors stopped it by means of mild punishment, discussion with the affected parents, and therapy for the bully (Olweus, 1991).

But can punishment prevent adult crime? Some laboratory experiments suggest that violence can be reduced if the punishment is swift and certain to follow aggression (Bower & Hilgard, 1981). However, in most Western societies punishments are neither swift nor certain, and follow lengthy court appeals. Even in countries where punishment is swift and certain, violence executed by the state still advertises the social learning model effect that aggression is approved as long as you wear the white hat. For instance some states justify capital punishment by advocating that it prevents murder and extreme violence. However, countries that abolished capital punishment have no more violent crime than those who practice it. In the U.S. those states that abolished capital punishment did not experience a rise in murders (Archer & Gartner, 1984; Peterson & Bailey, 1988). Neither did they witness a reduction in murders after the Supreme Court permitted the reinstitution of capital punishment. It would appear that capital punishment has no social utility. In fact, the U.S. with 3,000 men and women on death row, have higher murder rates than comparative Western countries like France or England.

8.2 Will victim reactions to pain reduce violence?
Aggressive responses are partly a biological adaptation that once was useful in early human history for survival purposes. Dogs often reduce aggression by displaying surrender in baring their throat to another more dominant dog. Are humans likely to respond in a similar way when victims of violence display symptoms of pain? If the victim is hurting will the attacker cease the aggression and show empathy for the suffering? Baron (1971a, 1971b, 1974) found evidence that pain display reduces aggression. When respondents in his studies were shown a pain meter, which correlated with the amount of electrical “shock” administered, the pain cue reduced the aggression. Perceived pain in the victim reduced shock in all cases except when the participant was extremely angry when the opposite actually occurred. Unfortunately, as we learn from life anger often inhibits empathetic processes.

It is obviously easier to kill and maim at a distance as it reduces human responsibility by interfering with empathetic processes. A friend who flew B-52’s during the Vietnam War described a typical mission as a day in the office. The crew would cook a pie in the cockpit at 30,000 ft or more while unleashing the bombs. The pilots never saw the suffering on the ground unless they became prisoners. The diffusion of responsibility has been taken a step further by the military since that time in the use of robots and computer directed weapons of mass destruction. The physical and psychological distance created between the aggressive act and the victims is so great that empathetic processes are rarely aroused. Also interfering with empathy is the military culture that mandates killing and the dehumanization of the victims as unworthy of sympathy.

8.3 Changing schemas and attributions
Since chronic aggression emerges partially from well-developed schemas and faulty attribution, perhaps aggression can be reduced if we can change thinking. Those who have organized and stable schemas for aggression perceive a variety of stimuli as threatening or insulting and therefore subject to retaliation. We see well developed aggression schemas in youth gangs where sensitivity to insults are particularly high, comparable to those in so-called cultures of honor. Can we change these attributions so fewer acts are considered insulting or threatening? That approach would require the intervention of society since aggressive behavior is often motivated by economic deprivation or the need for status in deprived communities.

Graham, Hudley, & Williams (1992) sought to change biased attributions in chronically aggressive children. The program was based on a 12-session intervention program designed to train hostile Afro-American boys to infer nonhostile intent after provocative interactions with peers. Among various subjects the boys were taught the meaning of intent, and what constitutes cues for hostile versus nonhostile intentions. If someone bumped into a boy how was that to be interpreted? Was it inadvertent and accidental or was it intended as a hostile act that required retaliation? Learning to discriminate between these events and attribute nonhostile intentions to some provocations led to a reduction of aggressive attributions in the children’s perceptions. After the training program was completed, the children were less likely to endorse aggressive behavior. An independent source, the classroom teacher, also considered the boys less aggressive after the intervention.

Aggressive behavior is a complex product of many forces. Would intervention work with youth gangs? If there is a possibility it should be tried of course. Youth gang hostility is however a product of many forces that must be changed too. Among these negative forces are lack of parental guidance, insufficient job opportunities to help youth to perceive positive outcomes in the future, the presence of historical enmity between races and ethnic groups, and the presence of aggressive models that are admired in the gang culture.

8.4 Can distractions reduce anger?
Some people ruminate about perceived insults and when they do anger increases and motivates aggression. Can the opposite occur? Can we distract ourselves and get some distance between us and the perceived insult, and would that reduce aggression? We are told to count to ten before responding with anger in some situations. That advice is given to prevent us from reacting with rage while in an anger mode. Other distractions include walking away from the source of frustration. Last night at a basketball game a player incurred an unjustified foul from the referee. The audience was in agreement with the player who obviously felt very provoked. However, rather than responding to his anger the player walked away toward the team bench while he got a hold on his feelings. The walking away distracted him sufficiently and the play continued. Studies have shown that ruminating on insults increases aggression, and distraction sometimes, but not always, reduces aggressive behavior (Bushman, 2002; Rusting & Nolen-Hoeksema, 1998).

8.5 Catharsis: Is it useful?
The idea of catharsis came from the psychoanalytic theories of Freud (1930). Freud subscribed to the idea that if aggressive behavior was not sublimated it would increase over time. Some have likened Freud’s model to a hydraulic pump where the accumulated hostility must find release in socially sanctioned ways or otherwise be released in violent acts. If aggressive impulses are not released bottled up feelings may cause mental disturbance or illness. When feelings of aggression are repressed long enough, illness may be the outcome (Pennebaker, 1990; Pennebaker & Francis, 1996).

Do these findings imply that aggression is healthy? One problem in venting anger is that doing so does not take into account the need to change the situation that provoked the anger. For example, being in an abusive relationship causes anger to build up over time in the victim. Going to the Gym or finding distractions might sublimate and dissipate some of that anger. However, efforts at catharsis will not solve the problem of abuse that caused the anger in the first place.

Further, we have evidence that expressing anger directly does not have any cathartic effects (Patterson, 1974). If aggressive behavior had cathartic effects, one would expect that the longer a player engages in competitive and aggressive sports the lower the level of hostility. In fact, the reverse occurred in this study, as the players became more hostile the longer the season. The cathartic concept also implies that watching violence may release pent-up aggression and therefore reduce subsequent hostility. One researcher studied a violent hockey game and drew the opposite conclusion (Russell, 1983). As the game progressed, the spectators became increasingly violent, and the state of anger arousal did not return to pre-game levels until several hours passed. Watching aggressive games actually increased feelings of aggression (Arms, Russell, & Sandilands, 1979; Branscombe & Wann, 1992).

If we direct aggression toward the source of our anger does that produce a cathartic response? Apparently not as this tend to increase future acts of violence (Geen, 1998). In one study (Geen, Stonner, & Shope, 1975) participants who were angered by a confederate and subsequently given the opportunity shocked the confederate at high levels. After administering the shock in this part of the experiment did a cathartic reaction occur? The answer is “no”, the respondent shocked at even higher levels later in the study. Typically these results are consistent with that experienced by most people in real life. An unresolved verbal confrontation is typically followed by more aggression. The cathartic effect must be considered largely mythological.

8.6 Confrontation and apology
If catharsis does not work, should we just bottle everything up? Perhaps there are cases in which we must suppress feelings of anger in the interest of the family or social harmony. However, in the long run this has negative effects on mental health (Pennebaker, 1990). Some research supports the importance of confronting the frustrating party in a nonviolent manner, to share the effect of the frustration and its consequences. Telling the other party in precise details what caused the anger and what mutual steps can be taken so the frustration does not reoccur or how it can be ameliorated, may reduce anger.

The confrontation procedure avoids direct aggression, and therefore does not bring denigration and other rationalizations into the picture. Think what it would mean to relationships if people could calmly discuss differences and frustrations while maintaining the dignity of the opponent or partner? The aim should be exchanging information that might encourage ways of reducing frustration, and improve relationships (Aronson, 1999). If it is not possible to talk directly to the person, it still might help to vent feelings to an empathetic other. Revealing emotions to others helps to reduce stress and is therefore supportive of mental health (Pennebaker, 1990). In the process of venting feelings, the person also often discovers insights into the issue, and an awareness of the contributions he has made himself to the frustrating behaviors.

On the other hand, if you find yourself contributing to the frustration can you do anything to improve the situation? One response to that question is obvious, you might even have practiced it, apologize! Most parties in conflict would take an apology seriously, and if sincerely meant it may disarm the other party and prevent hostility. Nations are often more immature than individuals, and sensitive nations often demand apologies over real or imagined insults. When the frustrating party takes full responsibility, the apologies reduce frustration and anger (Baron, 1988, 1990; Ohbuchi & Sato, 1994).

8.7 Social learning models of nonviolence
We have noted the intensity and prevalence of violent modeling in the media, and its affect on aggression. Every week a new movie makes its appearance and the primary action content is violence. It has been a cause of wonderment why the movie industry cannot find more models of nonviolence and produce excellent movies with themes like “Gandhi” or a current movie “Amazing Grace”. The former depicts the example of the great Indian leader and his nonviolent struggle against British colonialism, the latter the nonviolent struggle of the abolitionists of Great Britain to end the slavery trade.

These movies and others like them inspire and encourage people to participate in the human liberation project. Such noble aspirations are however counteracted by the many more performances in the movies or television of empty distraction or gratuitous violence. Yet, nonviolence is effective. We have only to remember the historical examples of nonviolent struggles that changed countries (e.g. India) or the internal life of nations (e.g. United States). In fact research shows that when children are exposed to nonviolent models they respond in more cautious ways to provocation (Baron, 1972; Vidysagar & Mishra, 1993). Nonviolence has demonstrated its utility in a variety of circumstances and could reduce violence in relationships both between individuals and nations.

8.8 Taking the position of the other side: learning empathy
As we have seen an important element in cruelty is the dehumanization of the victim. Denigration of the other party occurs for example by name calling, either between individuals, between racial or ethnic groups in society, or between nations. Perhaps the fact that the need to denigrate the victim is important to the aggressor, might leave room for a solution. Studies in social psychology on the administration of “shock” to victims show that it is difficult to inflict pain on strangers unless they are denigrated in some way (Feshbach & Feshbach, 1969; Feshbach, 1978). If we truly “felt” the consequences of aggression we would have less desire to participate in the aggressive act (we must exclude from this discussion psychopaths and warlords). Aggression is reduced when people develop empathy as demonstrated in several studies (Richardson, Hammock, Smith, & Gardner, 1994; Ohbuchi, Ohno, & Mukai, 1993). The question is how to create empathy for victims of violence. Taking the side of the opposing party takes not only courage, but also intellectual skills. Students who posses greater empathetic skills also display higher academic achievements (Feshback, 1997).

8.9 Developing communication skills
Finally, to solve conflict between individuals, groups or nations we must develop some method other than revenge or aggression. History has shown that this merely increases retaliatory violence. We all become angry, that is a natural human response. What matters is how we express our feelings. We could reduce the overall violence if people had better communication skills. How can we communicate anger in a way that does not invite retaliation?

In many conflicts there is the possibility to negotiate and reach a consensus. Individuals with poor communication skills more often respond to provocations in violent ways (Toch, 1980). Formal training in communication could potentially benefit the solution of many conflicts. In one study students were frustrated, but those who had the benefit of communication training responded constructively to frustration and showed less aggressive behavior (Davitz, 1952). The educational system is now more aware of the benefits of training pupils in nonviolence (Eargle, Guerra, & Tolan, 1994). It takes communication skills learned by formal training to reduce aggression in many arenas of life (Studer, 1996).

Violence in the world is as old as the story of Cain and Abel. Today we are more aware of violence all over the world due to the media and the Internet. Aggression is everywhere, between strangers, in families, and between ethnic groups and nations. The dimension of potential aggression can be measured in the availability of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons that can be activated in minutes. Those who read history know that all weapons that have been developed have also been used and the nuclear age may still produce the day of total annihilation. History tells of endless wars and campaigns of extermination. The United States has a violent history for reasons of insufficient integration, socio-economic inequalities, and cultural attachments to firearms.

Research has defined two types of aggression. Hostile Aggression is mediated by anger and aims at causing injury or pain. Most murders are anger based, but the mafia sometimes commits cold calculated killings. The second type is called Instrumental Aggression and its purpose is to remove obstacles like uncooperative crime partners. Since all killing may include both components, they are difficult to separate. The burning of witches during the dark ages had the instrumental purpose of saving their devilishly afflicted souls. For torture to occur, moreover it is necessary to dehumanize the victim. It is a form of instrumental aggression used to obtain confessions or humiliate the victims. Conformity to social pressure or obedience to authority causes torture to appear normal to the perpetrators.

Research reveals several theoretical approaches aimed at understanding aggression. The biological approach asserts that aggression is part of our genetic inheritance. For Freud, hostility was an expression of the Thanatos or death instincts. Other writers see aggression as a function of a broader biological inheritance that we share with the natural world. From this perspective aggression has a survival function. The presence of biological components related to aggression supports the genetic viewpoint. These components include hormones, neurotransmitters, the presence of the trait aggression in certain families that is stable across life spans, and the fact that animals can be bred for aggression.

Most social psychologists focus on learned aggression. Reinforcement theory suggests that people learn aggressive behavior by being rewarded. Bullies in school are rewarded for their intimidation by an increased status among fellow students. Reinforcement produces lasting aggressive behaviors. Observational learning, on the other hand, points to the effect of powerful models that children and adults learn to imitate. The social learning of hostility is produced by imitation of abusive parents, and by the many aggressive models in television, movies, the Internet, and in videogames. Social psychological research points to the numbing effect of repeated exposure to violence as a primary cause for the loss of empathy for victims and the willingness to accept violence.

The average child watches numerous killings on television while still in elementary school. Studies have shown a high correlation between this kind of exposure and violent or criminal behavior. Aggressive television diets at age eight may have profound lifelong consequences. Wherever violent television programming was introduced it was followed by increased violence in society. The relationship between media violence and aggression has also been supported by experimental studies. Media violence produces emotional arousal, disinhibition, and a numbing of ethics related to aggressive behavior. The evidence also supports the presence of social learning of aggression for video games and violent pornography. As pornography has spread throughout the Western world violence against women has increased. Rapists and serial killers have used pornography as a rationalization for their crimes. The porn industry has contributed to the sexual beliefs that women really mean yes when they say no, and that they enjoy being abused. Overall violent pornography makes violence more acceptable; encourages less sympathy for victims, and less support for sexual equality.

The culture we live in matters to the prevalence of human aggression. Some societies are more violent than others and the United States is among the most violent countries in the world. Is violence simply controlled by national character or preference? Research points to situational variables including high-income inequality, cultural sensitivity to threat, lack of integration, and history as they all contribute to higher levels of aggression.

In addition, the aggression schemas derived from herding cultures affect the behavior of today. It is believed that the sensitivity to insults derives from herding cultures where livelihood could be destroyed in an instant by enemy raids. Any perceived threat therefore required decisive and determined responses. Violence for example is greater in the southern part of the United States than in other regions. Southern whites are more likely to embrace violence in response to perceived threat or insult. Southern politeness recognizes the honor of others, but also make insults more salient. Rates for murders based on arguments are much higher in the Southern states compared to other locations in the country. Violence in the south endorses the protection of the self, but not indiscriminately.

The culture of a particular social group can also be conducive to violence. Mobs inculcate norms of violence. Mobs can generate violence because of deindividuation. A participant in mob activity carries less personal responsibility for violence due to anonymity, diffusion of responsibility among many, and the polarization effect common to groups. Risk taking derived from group decisions contributes to wars, lynching, and other aggressive conduct. Group polarization is expressed in increasing hostile behavior.

Gender is related to aggression. Males are more aggressive in all cultures where the issue has been studied. Nearly all reported violence associated with gangs or criminal behavior are committed by males. Male aggression is most likely an evolutionary adaptation used for survival but now threatens existence on the planet. Evolutionary psychologists believe that male protection of the gene pool is responsible for a variety of violent behavior, especially against women. Women on the other hand express aggression in relationships through gossip or exclusion of targeted persons.

Genetic relationships are what matters in treatment of in-laws after divorce or in the neglect of stepchildren. Research points furthermore to a higher level of parental maltreatment of children when they are not genetically related. The murder of women by men is also related to protection of the gene pool. Evolutionary psychologists argue that perceived infidelity of women threatens the survival of the genes and research shows that domestic murders are more likely in situations where women are perceived to have more sexual freedom. Contributing to these statistics is the male culture of honor. Men kill each other frequently after apparent small arguments. The disagreements however are not trivial since they involve prestige and therefore access to women.

Research guided by the frustration-aggression hypothesis has made significant contributions to the understanding of aggressive behavior. Many sources of frustration can be identified in family life and in other parts of our modern societies. Anger is the intervening variable between frustration and aggression, and research shows that it can often be displaced toward innocent targets. Aversive events are frustrating and elicit anger-based aggression. Examples of aversive events are pain, humiliations, insults and heat. Heat is as aversive stimulus related to violence as is demonstrated by the rising crime rates during hot months.

Attributing subhuman traits to the targeted person helps justify aggression. Being attacked will also nearly always bring retaliation, the need for which is emphasized in rationales for warfare. Crowding moreover is an aversive psychological condition that differs from the mere measures of physical density. Crowding is experienced as stressful and is associated with violence and higher crime rates.

Being frustrated economically is also thought to bring aggressive responses. However, it is important not to confuse frustration for deprivation. It is not absolute deprivation that is frustrating, but the feeling of injustice that comes from relative frustration. When we compare ourselves to others, as in the case of minority groups comparing their fate in life to the majority, we may experience relative deprivation. So what brings human contentment is not conspicuous consumption. The survival of the world requires us to move downward in material consumption. Nevertheless the construal of thwarted expectations, the relative frustration we experience, contribute to individual’s frustration.

Critics of the frustration-aggression hypothesis have noted that other stimuli may cause aggression as well. Some aggression is not even based on anger, like the instrumental aggression as the status needs of school bullies showed. Further, not all anger producing frustration leads to aggression. The severely oppressed often react to hopelessness with learned helplessness and resignation.

Violence may also be caused by aggression cues like handguns or (in some cultures) dark clothing. Where handguns are not permitted as in European countries, murder rates are significantly lower compared to the United States. Other aggression cues are drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol contribute to violence as statistics show that the majority of murders occur under the influence. Using drugs or alcohol disinhibits aggressive responses, and the user is also more sensitive to insults. Drunken people are incapable of correctly attributing intent to insult, and react emotionally to minimal slights. Alcohol also increases the social pressure in gangs’ intent on hurting others.

Schemas that define when aggression is appropriate behavior, are sensitive to aggression cues and hence facilitate aggression. Schemas work together with attributions in deciding whether the intent of the other party is hostile or not. Aggression schemas tend to be stable over the life span of people who are chronically aggressive. School shootings for example occur when schemas define an inhospitable school environment of dominant bullies. Family issues, child abuse, access to lethal weapons also all contribute to school violence.

What can be done to reduce violence in the world? Does punishing the aggressor work? It must be kept in mind that when a parent physically punishes a child, he/she also becomes a model for the aggressive behavior the parent is trying to inhibit. Children that are severely punished become more acceptant of violence and in turn may become abusive parents. Less severe punishment combined with counseling and community involvement has shown promise in reducing violence. Swift punishment may stop adult aggression, but the legal processes in Western countries make that outcome unlikely. The evidence shows that countries that have abolished capital punishment have no higher rates of murder and violence than those that retain the ultimate punishment.

A second way to reduce violence is the utility of empathetic processes. Research has shown that becoming aware of the pain inflicted on a subject reduces aggression. The problem with modern warfare is that aggression using long distance technology inhibits empathy because of the large physical and psychological distances produced.

A third option is changing schemas? Work with chronically aggressive children supports the utility of intervention programs designed to change faulty attributions.

Fourthly, we can distract ourselves and thereby get a hold of our emotions in the face of frustration and hence prevent aggression. Sometimes we just need to put some distance between the frustration and response by counting to ten before responding to insults. Catharsis has not proven successful. Although it is unhealthy to repress feelings, expressing anger directly actually increases aggression as can be observed in violent hockey games. Further, sublimating aggression does not get at the cause that produced frustration in the first place.

Fifthly, we can confront the frustration in a nonviolent way and share the effect of the frustration with the other party. The effort should aim at encouraging mutual steps to reduce anger. By using nonviolent approaches, the need to denigrate the other party that fuels ongoing hostility is removed. Sincere apologies take the string out of the frustration. We need more positive social learning models of nonviolence in the media to counteract the great imbalance that favors aggression and hostility.

Finally, learning to take the other side by developing empathetic skills could reduce aggression. Along with empathy, formal communication skills may help correctly identify intent. We may also learn to communicate anger that does not invite retaliation, and improve skills of negotiation and compromise.

Being Human. Chapter 11: Altruism And Prosocial Behavior

In 1964 a shocking incident occurred in New York City that caused distress and concern among social psychologists. A young woman, Kitty Genovese, was walking to her home when a stalker attacked her. What was especially distressing was that she was stabbed repeatedly over a 35-minute time span while crying out for help. It was not as if no one heard her cries. According to several news reports in the days that followed she died while 38 of her neighbors saw the attack and did nothing. They watched the attack unfold from windows above the street and the only intervention occurred when someone yelled, “leave that girl alone”, at which point the attacker left temporarily. However, after a short interval the attacker returned and stabbed her 8 more times, sexually assaulted her, and left her for dead. When finally police were called, there was nothing that could be done as Kitty had died.

When the neighbors were later interviewed and asked why they did not intervene, some indicated that they felt no personal responsibility to help, whereas others misconstrued the situation as one that did not require intervention. Although recent research indicates that the news reports had not been quite correct about every detail of this incidence (Manning, Levine & Collins, 2007), more importantly social psychologists were motivated by the news stories about this crime to try to understand what caused such indifference to suffering. In a more positive sense it also led to the desire to know why on the other hand some bystanders in other situations do display concern and intervene in order to help (Darley & Latane, 1968). We will come back to this research later in this chapter.

When September 11, 2001 came to New York, we saw this different side of the human nature, a desire to help and intervene. That day close to 3,000 people died in a massive attack on the World Trade Center. However, there were also hundreds of people who died trying to help these victims and in the process sacrificed their own lives (Lee, 2001). Most of the people who displayed extraordinary courage and selfless behavior on that day were ordinary people just like those who decided not to help Kitty Genovese. The helpers were average human beings who found themselves faced with an extraordinary situation that demanded their attention. Most of the workers in the building did the natural thing and fled to safety. However, there were some who stayed behind and helped the physically handicapped, there were those workers who saw to it that others were led to safety first, and there were hundreds of firefighters who lost their lives trying to save others (Stewart, 2002).

In both of these incidents the possibility of behaving in altruistic and helping ways presented itself. Why did those who watched Kitty Genovese die not help? Why did altruistic heroes arise out of the catastrophe at the World Trade Center? These and other issues dealing with altruistic and prosocial behavior will be addressed in this chapter. Human history shows the selfish and dark side of humanity, but also records people who are willing to sacrifice even their lives to help those in need. For social psychologists these anecdotal examples create questions as to whether willingness to help has a basic genetic component, or whether it is a consequence of learning. Is there such a thing as a pure altruistic motive in helping people or are all such behaviors at least partly motivated by self-interests?

1. What is altruistic and prosocial behavior?
Altruistic behavior occurs when we perform a voluntary act to help someone, and there is no expectation of any reward. The motives of the helper are what matters in any definition of prosocial or altruistic behavior. A major criterion of altruistic behavior is that the same helping behavior is elicited whether performed anonymously or in the public eye. Altruistic motives are inferred from behavior and are not motivated by the desire for medals or other public recognition (Schroeder, Penner, Dovido, & Piliavin, 1995).

On the other hand prosocial behavior is more broadly defined than altruism since it includes all helping behavior regardless of motives. If rich corporations donate money to support AIDS research they are performing a prosocial act, even if the motives include the desire to achieve public recognition as a socially responsible entity. So prosocial behaviors define the whole range of beneficial acts, from those motivated entirely by self-interest to those that are selfless acts of sacrifice (Batson, 1998). Societies offer many forms of recognition for prosocial behavior ranging from community recognition as “young leader of the year” to national honors bestowed by the government. In most societies prosocial behavior is easily identified and related to being considered a “good” person (McGuire, 1994). Many people are willing to help others with low cost behavior like providing telephone change after the recipient reported his wallet stolen (Berkowitz, 1972); or are willing to mail back a wallet that was “lost” by the researchers (Hornstein, Fisch, & Holmes, 1968). Life provides many opportunities to be helpful. The scout organization promotes “doing a good deed “ every day, and awards merit badges and rank for prosocial behavior. The military thrives on social recognition in the form of rank, and values the symbols of prosocial behavior such as medals for various categories of bravery.

At the end of the day what matters are the intentions of the actor, whether selfless or motivated by some form of self-interest. Altruistic behavior is defined by selfless motivation. When there are some egoistic motives, however remote in consciousness, we are describing prosocial behaviors. For the sake of a better society we should encourage prosocial behaviors, and also admire those people who act with complete selflessness.

2. The motivation to help
Several theories have been developed in social psychology to explain why people help others. Social exchange theory argues that apparent unselfish behavior is really a form of disguised self-help. Evolutionary psychology asserts that altruism emerged out of our ancestral past because such behavior was useful to the survival of individuals and the species. Finally, some social psychologists believe that there are pure motives for altruism as an expression of empathy with the suffering of others.

2.1 Social exchange theory: We help when rewards are greater than costs
Some social psychologists have relied on well-tried theories to explain altruistic behavior. Social exchange theory (see also chapter 3) hypothesizes that people help after weighing benefits and costs of the behavior. In deciding on whether to help or not, we employ in our psychological economy what might be called a minimax strategy. In other words we seek to maximize our rewards at the least cost. The weighing of outcomes is not necessarily done in a conscious way, but subconsciously we weigh the costs versus the benefits from any behavior (Homans, 1961; Lawler & Thye, 1999). In fact, helping behavior can be rewarding as well as costly in several ways. If we help someone perhaps they will help you in the future. A friend confided that she looked after old friends because “perhaps someone would do that for me when I get old”. Also, many people feel disturbed when observing suffering, so helping may be motivated by the desire to relieve distress as well as the wish to help the other person (Dovido, Piliavin, Gaertner, Schroeder, & Clark, 1991; Eisenberg & Fabes, 1991). Keep in mind that not all rewards for prosocial behavior are external. At times we also feel better about ourselves when we help.

So social exchange theory argues that we help in order to gain some benefit. Are purely unselfish motives at play when rich people give away great amounts of money to ameliorate suffering? Perhaps, but at some level the donor may also be aware of the social approval that follows such acts. Prosocial behavior is supported by socialized norms in most if not all societies. Human motives are complex, and any behavior including prosocial behavior is the outcome of such complexity. Of course prosocial behavior should be lauded regardless of motives since helping is voluntary. Rich people could have chosen some other way to use their money (Dovido et. al. 1991).

Still intuitively many people feel dissatisfied with explanation of behavior as a function of market place ideology. This seems a too cynical explanation for many acts of bravery and other forms of unselfish behavior. As we shall see altruistic behavior is more complex, and some of us believe that people also respond with pure motives. Nevertheless, social approval may partly predict the willingness to intervene to help. In some research when approval followed helping (reinforcement), prosocial behavior increased (Staub, 1978).

2.2 Improving image and other rewards
As suggested above helping others is highly valued behavior in most societies, and altruistic behaviors may be motivated by a desire for social recognition. Captains of industry with questionable reputations may seek to improve their image by volunteering or giving money to charities (Nowak, Page, & Sigmund, 2000). When we help others society takes notes, and the helper may be a candidate for titles and other forms of social recognition. Do some of us help because we like the attention it brings, and are attracted to having a positive image in our community? When Bill Gates gave away 500 billion dollars to a variety of worthwhile causes was that pure altruism? The establishment of his foundation did not occur anonymously, it bears his name, nor did the contributions of other high profile givers. Perhaps these powerful people enjoy being able to transform the life of people and nations, or perhaps they seek to store up credit for the life that follows earthly existence. On the other hand since we have no direct evidence of motivation, these unselfish gifts may have been donated without regard to any social consequences.

Altruistic behavior can be a means of improving one’s standing in the community, as it tends to be valued behavior in all cultures (Campbell, 1975). If the motive is to obtain social rewards that too may have an evolutionary advantage. People who are praised for their unselfish behavior often get rewards in terms of influence, higher pay, election to office, and improvement of their image. These advantages give greater possibilities also for their children and other kin. In de U.S., for example, giving a large donation to a university may assist in college applications for descendents of the generous donor. Improvement of image comes from having buildings or stadiums named after the beneficent donator. There are many ways in which social rewards assist natural selection by offering benefits directly to the donor and his offspring.

A number of studies have shown that children are more willing to help if they are rewarded gold stars, or given bubble gum to reinforce helping behavior (Fischer, 1963). Praise is also an effective vehicle to promote generosity in children (Mills & Grusec, 1989). Praise that aims at reinforcing the child’s self-conception is very effective in promoting helping behavior. Directing praise to the child’s personality “you are helpful, because that is really the nice person you are”, is more effective than just general praise that helping “is a good thing to do for others”. Dispositional praise helps the child develop a self-concept that includes altruistic behavior, and therefore is more likely to sustain helping behavior in the future.

Children of course also learn by modeling the behavior of others. In one study children watched a popular television show that either depicted helping behavior, or a neutral situation. Children who watched the prosocial modeling were more likely to help even giving up some personal benefits, compared to those children who watched the neutral show (Sprafkin, Liebert, & Poulos, 1975). Adult blood donors are also affected by the actions of models (Rushton & Campbell, 1977). In the aforementioned study potentional donors volunteered at a higher rate when they observed a confederate first volunteer. More than two-thirds (67 %) pledged to give blood in the social learning condition, whereas only 25 percent of the participants were willing when they saw no model. The social learning effect persisted in the actual behavior. None of the participants who pledged to donate blood in the ‘no model’ condition actually gave blood subsequently, whereas 33 percent of those who observed the confederate model pledge eventually donated. We cannot overestimate the importance of good examples as people look to others to learn how to behave in a given situation.

2.3 Social norms and prosocial or altruistic behavior
Society supports prosocial behavior in a variety of ways. The socialization process where norms are established makes such behavior largely automatic and unconscious. In the process of socialization children learn that it is good to help those who are vulnerable. Boy scouts learn to be helpful, the educational institutions support humanitarian projects, and children receive praise from their parents for helpful behavior. Social norms have developed over time, because they have some adaptive function related to the welfare of society. The norm of social responsibility urges us to look after those who depend on us. Parents should care for their children, and children should look after their parents in old age. The norm of social responsibility urges us to look after the vulnerable in society. Society prescribes social responsibility as a duty that might at times be written into law. The social security systems of many countries, the complete medical assistance in Cuba, or the educational systems of most countries, are all examples of the social responsibility norm.

The norm of reciprocity contains the idea that we help those who help us. Reciprocity obviously has many advantages for the individual as societies cooperate to create better lives for their citizens, and to protect the society from those who would do harm. Regan (1968) showed the effectiveness of the reciprocity norm in an experimental study. Study pairs of university students worked on a judgment task, and after some time had passed were given a short break. During the break the confederate who was working as a member of the couple left the building, and after a while returned and gave the subject a coca cola. In a second condition the experimenters gave all the participants the drink. In the third and final condition no drinks were provided during the break. The participants then returned to the task and continued working. During a second break the confederate approached the subject and asked for his help in selling some raffle tickets for a good purpose (building a new gym). The results showed that the participants were more willing to help the confederate when the confederate had done the favor of providing a drink during the break. The reciprocity norm is strong in many cultures (Gergen, Ellsworth, Maslach, & Seipel, 1975).

The social justice (equity) norm supports the fair treatment of members of society. Equity is a common principle in many societies. For example equal work by men and women should yield equal pay. This is one of the reasons that strong labor unions emerged in Western Europe and in North America. These unions not only fought for fair standards at work, but also established procedures for equal treatment. In recent years we have seen many efforts to provide equity between the races, ethnic groups, and genders in Europe and the United States. Still the capitalist system creates inequity, and some people like Bill Gates benefit in truly unequal ways.

There is some evidence that those who are over-benefited in society try to restore some equity to those who are losers (Walster, Walster, & Berscheid, 1978). Is that why Bill Gates and other very rich (e.g. Warren Buffett) donate money to worthwhile causes? In a laboratory study (Berscheid and Walster, 1967) one person through no fault of his own lost a great deal. When given the possibility of restoring some equity at the end of the game, the winner (the actual subject) was more likely to give money to the loser whereas when both parties had approximately equal winnings they gave less (see also Schmitt & Marwell, 1972). These norms (social responsibility, reciprocity, equity) and other social prescriptions encourage those who grow up in a given society to help those in need.

2.4 Evolutionary motives to act altruistically
Scientists have long been aware of prosocial behavior among various animal species (Darwin, 1871). Dawkins (1976) noted for example that rabbits try to warn other rabbits of predators and approaching dangers. There is obviously a survival value for rabbits as a species (although not as individuals) if they are hard wired to warn of danger. Evolutionary theory presents a problem for altruism. If the most altruistic members of a species take risks to help others survive and in the process die, how can they pass the altruistic gene on to the next generation? In response evolutionary theory would argue that any gene that contributes to the survival of the species tends to be passed on to the next generation.

When helping others is motivated by our genetic inheritance it must contribute to survival of the gene, although not necessarily the survival of the individual (Bell, 2001; McAndrew, 2002). When the mother storms into a burning house to save her children, she may lose her life in the process, but still thereby contribute to the survival of her genes by saving a child. Costly or self-sacrificing acts may be counterproductive for the individual, but still help children or other kin prosper and survive. The role of genes in contributing to survival is supported by animal studies (Burnstein, Crandall, & Kitayama, 1994). Human parents have also been shown to be more helpful to healthy offspring rather than children that have less of a chance to survive (Webster, 2003). Further, mothers are commonly more attentive to their children’s needs than fathers. The evolutionary argument is that mothers must be more attentive for their genes to survive as they produce only few offspring, whereas males can theoretically produce many children with different females. Many of you may resist this idea that altruism is hardwired selfishness. It is a sure thing that human behavior is not unidimensional, but the product of many factors among which genes may be one component. Genes may contribute to both selfish and altruistic behaviors, and we are far from understanding any gene-path to complex behaviors (Bell, 2001; Kottler, 2000).

2.4.1 Kinship altruism
Natural selection favors acts that increase the likelihood of survival and reproduction. Since altruism requires sacrifice and is costly, it would seem that altruistic people would not survive nor pass on offspring to the next generation. Natural selection however, encourages behaviors that lead to survival of those who are genetically related (Hamilton, 1964). Those who are closest genetically are therefore likely to be the recipients of our most beneficial acts. Children come first in the minds of parents. When we look after our children we are most likely to pass on our genes to the coming generations. Research confirms that the closer the genetic relationship the higher the level of helpful behavior. In studies of identical twins, Segal (1984) found that they were significantly more supportive of each other than fraternal twins.

Throughout history genetic survival value has increased when we identified those with whom we shared common genes. Our genes are responsible for apparent physical similarity, a marker for those we should help. Eye color, skin tone, facial features all help to identify those with whom we have a closer genetic relationship (Rushton, Russell, & Wells, 1984). We are also more likely to mate with neighbors than strangers. Being biologically biased toward neighbors occurs since historically living close to someone meant a genetic relationship. Only in modern times and especially with globalization is the genetic relationship of neighbors uncertain. However, even in these conditions immigrants gather into ethnic communities of mutual support.

In natural disasters people help first close kin, then neighbors, and then strangers (Burnstein, Crandall, & Kitayama, 1994). Is the motive favoring genetic survival the reason that most people favor their own ethnic group? Evolutionary psychologists would agree that genes determine prosocial behavior toward the closely related, and greater likelihood of violence toward the less genetically related. There are social psychologists that think that kinship preferences are the true enemies of civilization responsible for all the genocides, wars, and indifference to human suffering (Rushton, 1991). The ability to identify kin from smells or visual cues has been demonstrated in animal studies. Human mothers can recognize their newborn babies from photographs even after very little contact (Porter, Cernoch, & Balogh, 1984). Imagine a Dane having the experience of being in the presence of people traveling to York at the train station in London, England, who seemed to resemble the features of the Danish people from whom he descends. York was a center of the Danish Viking kingdom, and it is not surprising that there still exists a pool of shared ancestry and genes in people traveling to York. People with shared genes are probably more sensitive to visual cues that others might not notice.

If the idea that there is a genetic basis in motivating helping behavior holds true it should be demonstrable in different cultures. In a variety of ethnic groups people receive more help from close kin than from those more distant (Essock-Vitale & McGuire, 1985). Identical twins are twice as likely to cooperate than fraternal twins who share only half of their genes with each other (Burnstein, 2005). Survivors of a fire noted that they were more likely to search for family members rather than friends before escaping from the inferno (Sime, 1983). Genes of course do not operate at any level of consciousness, but are thought to be hardwired in our brains as predispositions. The essential argument is that those who follow the biological imperative to help close kin are more likely to have their genes survive across the many thousands of years of human history and evolution.

2.4.2 Reciprocity derives from genetic self-interest
The norm of reciprocity may also be a product of genetic self-interest. We help and in turn expect to be helped (Binham, 1980). Living in groups, human beings learned the advantage of cooperating since it directly contributed to survival. When a person is helped at one point in time there is also the expectation that the favor will be returned at a later time. Evolutionary psychologists call this reciprocal altruism that we also discussed under the topic of social norms. We seemingly help strangers who do not have the benefit of kinship, some believe because of the expectation that the favor will be returned at some later point (Trivers, 1971). Drinking beer in Australia is a good example of reciprocity. Each person at the table takes his turn to pay, and if anyone tries to skip his turn a long silence will ensue until it becomes clear that there will be no more drinking unless reciprocity is respected. An experiment demonstrated this powerful principle of human conduct. A researcher mailed Christmas cards to complete strangers, and 20 percent mailed back a Christmas card greeting to a name and address they did not know (Gouldner, 1960). On a more serious scale of social behavior reciprocity helps people form alliances for mutual assistance, and counteracts the domination of would-be leaders (Preston & de Waal, 2002). In short reciprocity contributes directly to evolutionary advantages and survival, and evolutionary psychologists believe that the predisposition is hard wired into our brains.

2.4.3 Genetic predisposition to learn social norms
Simon (1990) suggested that learning social norms is also adaptive and helpful to survival. We learn social norms from parents, friends and social institutions in the process of socialization. Those who learn norms best are more likely to survive and leave offspring. This weeding out process over time leaves people in society with a predisposition to learn and follow social norms. Altruism or at least prosocial behavior is a norm in all societies, and evolutionary psychologists believe that people are hardwired to learn these norms because of their relationship to natural selection and survival. Learning how to cooperate and help others has adaptive functions for the individual, but also for society as a whole (Kameda, Takezawa, & Hasite, 2003).

2.4.4 Critiques of evolutionary theory
While evolutionary theory has produced provocative ideas about human behavior, it has not convinced everyone (Batson, 1998; Gould, 1997; Wood & Eagly, 2002). Where is the survival value in helping complete strangers, or assisting people whose physical appearances indicate low levels of kinship? Altruism and prosocial behavior can also be explained by psychological constructs. Helping close kin may be the consequence of modeling and rewards in the family for such behavior. Somehow it seems too cynical to attribute life-threatening interventions on behalf of strangers to a genetic predisposition. Perhaps there are also other motives in helping behavior.

3. Distress at observing suffering
When we observe suffering in others we may experience distress. For example it is distressful to see a victim of a traffic accident. The victim may be in great pain so you try to help by holding his hand, talking in soothing voice, and calling for an ambulance. Are these behaviors totally a consequence of your focus on the victim, or is your distress at seeing pain a contributing factor in helping behavior? Empathy obviously plays a role; i.e., we feel the suffering of the victim, and identify with the pain being experienced as we imagine how the other person feels. Perhaps we have experienced pain ourselves in a previous accident, or had a close relative that was injured. Such life experiences may make us more sensitive to suffering, and more likely to act in helpful ways.

We know from research that the ability to empathize is present at the very beginning of life. In one study (Martin & Clark, 1982) infants heard a tape of their own crying, the distress of another one-day old child, and the crying of an eleven-month infant. The infants cried most in response to another one-day old infant. We seem to be hardwired to understand the distress of others and feel it like our own. Gradually over time we learn to take the perspective of the other, which in turn produces altruistic behavior. However, do we respond to alleviate the distress of the other, or reduce our own discomfort? If we act without concern for our own distress perhaps our motives are purely unselfish, but if our motive is to reduce the distress we personally feel, then obviously the motive is at least partly egoistic.

4. Empathy and prosocial behavior
Regardless, empathy has been related to helping behavior in a variety of situations and cultures (Batson 1998; Hoffman, 2000). We feel more empathy when we deal with victims that are similar to ourselves in some meaningful way. In the chapter on relationships and attraction (chapter 3) the importance of similarity in relationships was emphasized.

We are also more likely to feel empathy if we construe the situation as one that is beyond the control of the victim (Miller, Kozu, & Davis, 2001). If a person approaches you with a plea for some pocket change your desire to help may be determined by whether you construe the beggar as an alcoholic trying to wing his next drink, or a person out of luck who lost his job. Finally, we can increase empathy if we direct the attention toward the person in need. In one study (Toi & Batson, 1982) participants were asked whether they would be willing to help a fellow student who had been in a car accident and broken both her legs. In one condition the participants were asked to take the perspective of the victim and how she felt about her misfortune. In the second condition the participants were asked to be as “objective” as possible, paying attention to the information, but not concerning themselves with the feelings of the victim. In the condition where students were primed with empathy instructions 71 percent of the participants volunteered to help, whereas in the objective condition only 33 percent offered help. So taking the position of the other by being empathetic can result in greater levels of helpful behavior.

4.1 Emphatic or pure altruism
Perhaps you now wonder is there any behavior which can be described as purely selfless, where the motive focuses on the other person, and where the concern is only for the welfare of other people? We can see from the evolutionary as well as from the social exchange perspective that selfish motives cannot be separated from selflessness. There are those researchers however, who would claim a role for altruism in human behavior (Batson & Shaw, 1991). Batson and his colleagues would acknowledge the difficulty of separating motives in complex social interaction, but nevertheless designed a series of experiments to understand motives for unselfish or altruistic behavior (Batson, 2002; Batson & Powell, 2003).

Batson argued that when we feel empathy for another person we help for purely altruistic reasons, regardless of whether we gain something for ourselves in the process. In the Toi & Batson study (1982) the investigators varied both cost and empathy. High cost was manipulated by telling the participants that the student who had the accident would be returning to class, and therefore they would have a daily reminder of whether they helped or not. In the low-cost condition the participants were told that the accident victim would be doing her class work at home, and therefore they would not have to face her sitting in a wheel chair reminding them of their guilt if they did not help.

If purely altruistic motives were at play, helping behavior would be extended regardless of costs once empathy had been manipulated. In fact that was the result. When people were provided with empathy instructions they were about equally likely to volunteer regardless of the costs. However, when told to be objective (low empathy) the participants were more likely to help when it was not costly. Seeing the accident victim in class is psychologically costly since there might be issues related to the disapproval by the victim if the participants did not volunteer. The results for the low empathy condition were interpreted from the perspective of social exchange theory. When empathy was low people are more likely to be concerned with costs and benefits of helping the victim.

Another study involved the willingness to take electrical shocks in place of a confederate of the experimenter (Batson, O’Quin, Fultz, Vanderplas, & Isen, 1983). The confederate pleaded feeling unwell, and the experimenter turned to the actual subject to see if they were willing to replace the confederate. Based on a self-report measure the researchers divided subjects into those who felt egoistic distress at the potential of watching someone else getting the shocks, and those who felt empathy. In fact those who felt empathy were more likely to volunteer to take the unpleasant shocks.

If empathy is a distinct emotional state can we observe its signature in the respondents physiological responses? Eisenberg, Fabes, Miller, Fultz, Shell, & Mathy, (1989) conducted an experiment with children and college students who watched a video of a woman and her children who had been in an accident. Measures were taken of facial expressions and heart rates. Later the participants were given an opportunity to help by taking homework to the victims during recess thereby also sacrificing playtime. The results showed that those who felt sympathy or empathy had distinct facial responses, heart deceleration, and were more likely to help. This study would suggest that empathy has a discernable physiological concomitant.

4.2 Theories of altruism and prosocial behavior offer different levels of explanation
In the scholarly contest a theory is presented as if it is the one and only true explanation for human behavior. In fact all theories are but windows into reality through which we may perceive some of the landscape, but by no means all of human behavior. Different windows provide different views, and social psychological theories provide different levels of explanation.

Social exchange theory offers explanations at the psychological level with prosocial behavior seen as a function of external rewards. We engage in prosocial behavior to get something in return including praise, promotions, one’s name on a building, or medals for achievements. Many people aspire to good works for these external rewards. Social exchange theory also explains what we have called “pure” altruism from still a reward perspective. For example if we feel bad at the suffering of others, removing that distress causes a restoration of tranquility and provides some inner reward for our unselfish behavior.

The social norm theory suggests we learn prosocial and altruistic behavior through socialization in our society. Norm theory is therefore primarily a sociological theory. Prosocial behavior is initiated and sustained by expected responses as defined by the reciprocity norm. If you help me now I expect to help you at a later point. Help me build my house now and I will help you build your house at a later date, a common practice among the Amish religious communities in the United States.

The reason we engage in helping strangers with whom we have no reciprocal relationship is that we have incorporated norms of social responsibility. Society over the course of history has encouraged us to look after those who are vulnerable, and so we feel a responsibility to help the beggar, to donate money to cancer research, or help with the problems of hunger and the AIDS epidemic. All these activities on behalf of people we will never know and never meet are in response to feelings and thoughts of social responsibility.

The evolutionary perspective discussed in 2.4.2 and 2.4.3 explain prosocial and altruistic behavior from fundamental biological imperatives. Evolutionary psychologists argue that prosocial behavior such as reciprocity in helping has evolutionary advantages, and therefore became hardwired in our brains in the course of evolution. Those who cooperate have a much greater chance to survive and pass on their genes to the next generation. Why is it then that we are more likely to help close kin as compared to strangers? Again the biological imperative ensures in that situation that while we may not survive as individuals, our genes survive if we help our children. That is perhaps why parents are more altruistic toward their children, than children are toward their parents.

Each of these theories explains altruistic and prosocial behavior to some degree after the fact, and therefore is open to the charge of speculative nominalism. However, as we have seen these theories have also proven to be scientific theories by generating hypotheses that test propositions emerging from each theory. Although some experiments may seem contrived and open to experimenter’s effects (where good students infer the meaning of the study and try to comply with the expected behavior), the three approaches possess validity emerging from both common sense and every day experience. At the end of the day complex behaviors cannot be understood by looking through one or two windows, only by taking in the whole panorama. In other words prosocial and altruistic behavior are a function of all these approaches and much else, as we shall see in the coming paragraphs.

5. Personality and other individual differences
One of the important lessons learnt in social psychology is that the power of the situation may overcome individual differences making these irrelevant to the prediction of behavior (Ross & Nisbett, 1991). Remember the Milgram and Larsen experiments in chapter 7. In the Larsen, Coleman, Forbes, & Johnson (1972) experiments no relationships were found between personality measures and laboratory aggression. The work on conformity by Asch (1954) and others (e.g. Larsen, 1974a,b; Larsen, Triplet, Brant, & Langenberg, 1979; Larsen, 1982; Larsen, 1990) also showed that pressures from others overwrite any scruples a person might have in conforming to illogical behavior.

The power of the situation was observed in a classical study on prosocial behavior (Hartshorne & May, 1929). These scholars investigated the prosocial responses of tens of thousands of elementary and high school students in a variety of situations. The results showed that being prosocial in one situation did not necessarily predict helpful behavior in another context. Others (Batson, 1998) have shown that scoring high on personality measures of altruism do not lead to more helpful behavior compared to those scoring low. There are obviously factors other than personality that also matter in prosocial behavior.

Nevertheless, personality matters if we know the connection between the personality and the situation in which the behavior occurs. There are individual differences in prosocial behavior that are stable over long periods (Hampton, 1984). Gradually, researchers have teased out from the data some personality traits that are likely to lead the individual to being more helpful to others. These traits include empathy, self-efficacy (competence), and emotionality (Bierhoff, Klein, & Kramp, 1991; Tice & Baumeister, 1985). Also, we are beginning to understand that particular personality traits are important in particular situations. Therefore it is the particular combination of personality and the context that matters (Romer, Gruder, & Lizzadro, 1986; Wilson & Petruska, 1984). Studies on the social self (see chapter 2) show that those who are self-monitoring and staying in tune with a given situation are more likely to be helpful if prosocial behavior leads to some reward. Those who are more internally guided pay less attention to the situation and opinions of others (White & Gerstein, 1987). In review studies of gender and helping it is also the interaction between personality and context that matters (Eagly & Crowley, 1986). Other studies likewise point to the interaction factor as the critical component (Knight, Johnson, Carlo, & Eisenberg, 1994). For example people who have a high need for approval will donate money when they believe their prosocial behavior is being observed (Satow, 1975).

There are of course many ways to help, ranging from donating blood to the Red Cross to risking life and limb trying to save someone. Social learning is important in the background of blood donors who often had a parent modeling prosocial behavior (Piliavin & Callero, 1991). From these studies they also noted that blood donation reflected personal identity, that often people donated because of their feelings that they were the type of person who would and should engage in prosocial behavior. Self-identity as a prosocial person is important for long time contributions in various areas including working for cancer causes or other volunteer work (Grube & Piliavin, 2000).

Those who intervened on behalf of the victims in the holocaust in Europe during the Second World War have also been investigated (Oliner & Oliner, 1988). What would cause a person to risk everything for complete strangers who in turn were threatened with persecution and death? When later interviewed these altruistic people would refer to the influence of family and community, and the prosocial norms they grew up with encouraging them to be helpful, as critical in deciding to help. Others who intervened noted that they felt compelled to help because they empathized with the suffering of the victims and felt compassion. Feelings about justice and social responsibility also played a role. From these studies we recognize that there are nevertheless individual differences that consistently cause people to be helpful across a variety of situations (Eisenberg, Guthrie, Cumberland, Murphy, Shepard, Zhou, & Carlo, 2002; Penner & Finkelstein, 1998).

5.1 Gender differences
The type of altruistic behavior a person will engage in depends to some extent on gender. Who would be more likely to behave heroically in saving someone’s life, like jumping in the water to save a drowning person, or running into a building on fire to rescue victims? On the other hand who would be more likely to help the infirm and provide long term care to those in need? If you answered men to the first example, and women to the second your opinion would be consistent with the data. It stands to reason that the genders having experienced gender-based socialization, would behave differently in these situations, as they do in so many other fields of life. Men are socialized to take on the role of protector. Since 1904, 8,706 persons have been recipients of the Carnegie Hero Fund Medal, an annual recognition of a US citizen who risked all to save another person. Of these thousands of individuals only 9 percent were women (Becker & Eagly, 2004). Women on the other hand excel in the nurturance and commitment required to help others (George, Carroll, Kersnick, & Calderon, 1998). This pattern of greater willingness to do volunteer work by girls and women is also demonstrated cross-culturally (Flanagan, Bowes, Jonsson, Csapo, & Sheblanova, 1998). The greater upper body strength and athletic training in men and boys contribute to this gender difference, as does the nurturing behavior norms encouraged in females in all cultures.

Does the Carnegie recognition reflect a true difference in heroism between men and women? When it came to risking their lives during the holocaust women were more likely to intervene. Nearly 63 percent of those who rescued the Jews were women (Becker & Eagly, 2004). This outcome reflects perhaps gender differences in empathy and compassion with women feeling more of both traits.

It is not an easy decision to give up an organ to another person. Among those who donated a kidney, 57 percent were women. Other helping challenges including serving in the Peace Corps also produces more women volunteer, as 60 percent of these are also women. Like mentioned before women also outshine men when it comes to nurturing assistance to others. Women are more likely than men to look after children, aging parents, and provide social support for others (Eagly & Crowley, 1986; Shumaker & Hill, 1991; Crawford & Unger, 2000).

5.2 Religious differences
One might expect that religious beliefs would make a difference in people’s willingness to intervene and help other. After all, the Golden Rule is common to all religions. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” reflects the reciprocity norm that good things follow prosocial behavior. For example the Christians’ Bible urges us to “store up things in heaven” since these eternal rewards do not perish with individual life. These prescriptions emphasize the motivation of the social exchange model at least for some religious people. So to be religious may not be so different from other forms of prosocial behavior, only the rewards expected are in the life that follows earthly existence. That is not to say that religious people are not capable of true altruism, or in making selfless sacrifices for others, but probably not at rates greater than people who utilize a different ethical model for life except as noted below.

When it comes to helping in minor emergency situations, religious people do not help more than others (Batson, Schoenrade, & Pych, 1985). However, when it comes to planned helping, which requires long-term commitment, religious devotion makes a difference. Having a religious outlook would logically impact planning one’s life, including a life of service. Those who are religious are more likely to help with AIDS victims, and the homeless (Amato, 1990; Snyder & Omoto, 1991). Students in a university who were religiously committed were also more likely to campaign for social justice, and work among the needy in society (Gallup, 1984; Colasanto, 1989). Religious people are also more willing to share their income and contribute to a variety of charities (Hodgkinson & Weitzman, 1990). We can speculate as to the underlying motives, but that seems less important than the outcome that show that sincerely religious people are more prosocial in planning their life and their activities than those who are not religious.

5.3 Differences in mood
If you are in a good mood you are more likely to let that feeling spill over and engage you in prosocial behavior (Isen & Simmonds, 1978). Another study showed that mood enhancing using soothing music results in prosocial behaviors (Fried & Berkowitz, 1979). Who would have guessed it, even the presence of pleasant odors such as freshly baked cookies also increases the positiveness you feel toward others (Batson, 1998). Some of you may remember the odors of Christmas baking and how that helped put you in a good mood for the holidays. Perhaps organizations would be more harmonious if the participants could listen to music and eat fresh cookies each day, it may even affect work habits?

Of course when in a good mood you would like to maintain the feeling, and helping others promotes the continuation of these positive feelings. Giving a helping hand to someone may simply be a way of maintaining the positive feelings (Carlson, Charlin, & Miller, 1988). Happy people tend to help others, regardless of the origin of the happy thoughts (Salovey, Mayer, & Rosenhan, 1991). Unfortunately moods do not last, so helping behavior derived from moods tends to be short-lived (Isen, Clark, & Schwartz, 1976). Nevertheless, helping others may improve one’s bad mood, and therefore lead to more helping behavior (Berkowitz, 1987).

Whether bad moods lead to helping depends on whether the mood is self-focused or focused on the needs of the other person. We are more likely to help if assisting others leads to a more positive mood and therefore gives us relief from our own negative feelings (Cialdini, Schaller, Houlihan, Arps, Fultz, & Beaman, 1987; Schaller & Cialdini, 1988). From this perspective prosocial behavior responds to ego based needs, to relieve bad feelings or discomfort. Is there actually a relationship between helpful behavior and positive moods? Several studies have supported this contention, and have shown that by providing help one develops more elevated feelings about the self (Williamson & Clark, 1992). A good mood helps us see the positive of life, and the good side of others. Helping others prolongs these feelings of good mood, whereas walking away is a sure way to feel bad (Clark & Isen, 1982). Good moods also seem to increase the focus on the self, and on our altruistic ideals. This attention to self-identity in turn increases helping behavior (Berkowitz, 1987).

5.4 Guilt: a long lasting emotion
Probably all people have experienced situations where they violated their conscience, transgressed against their better selves, and subsequently felt guilt. Guilt is typically not a passing mood, but may be long lasting and painful. We observe from the collective history of mankind various ways of dealing with guilt, and efforts we make to reduce negative feelings. The concept of “scapegoat” (where we seek to blame others for our misdeeds) has a historical origin, where an animal was required to bear the burden of a whole society’s guilt (de Vaux, 1965). Throughout the history people have sought to placate the gods by offering various forms of sacrifice, typically something valuable. The sacrifice could include the best of the harvest, but the gods were not easy to placate, and eventually in some societies it included human sacrifice of virgins and children. In modern times people have sought to placate their own conscience by doing good deeds in order to remove guilt and to feel better about themselves. The role of guilt in prosocial behavior has been examined experimentally by inducing guilt in respondents by encouraging them to lie or to commit other moral transgressions, and then afterwards offering opportunities for helpful behavior. In one experiment (McMillen & Austin, 1971) where students were induced to lie, they were subsequently more helpful in a totally unrelated activity.

Confessing guilt is a means by which people may restore their self-image. Recently in Tromsø (Norway) a young thief wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper apologizing for his criminal behavior. Others have shown that publicly confessing to misdeeds elicits sympathy and forgiveness of transgressions. The Catholic Church recognizes the importance of confessions in restoring self-image and self-esteem. In one experiment (Weiner, Graham, Peter, & Zmuidinas, 1991) women in a store were led to think they had broken a valuable camera. Subsequently when given the opportunity these women were much more likely to help in a different situation when compared to those who did not experience guilt. Long lasting guilt is not a healthy emotion, but helping others is positive behavior and may benefit both the person in need and also relieve guilt at the same time.

5.5 Cultural differences
Is culture a factor affecting prosocial behavior? Some research would answer in the affirmative. Perhaps because of the kinship selection all cultures are more likely to help members of the in-group than those who belong to out-groups (Brewer & Brown, 1998). Yet we observe in groups like Save the Children, or Aid programs for Africa, efforts to reach outside cultural barriers and assist those in need who are not related. As might be expected this stream of assistance comes from those who are relatively well off in material goods.

Culture plays an important role in societies described as interdependent versus independent. In interdependent cultures the needs of people belonging to the in-group are considered more important than helping people from the out-group. Members of more independent cultures in the Western countries are more likely to help out-groups (Miller, Bersoff, & Harwood, 1990; Moghaddam, Taylor, & Wright, 1993; Triandis, 1994). However, as we have seen elsewhere there is also a positive bias toward members of one’s own group in competitive Western societies, even when based on nonsensical categories (Doise, Csepeli, Dann, Gouge, Larsen, & Ostell, 1972). Helping behavior is more likely when people can see you as part of their own society and thus empathize with your plight (Ting & Piliavin, 2000).

One major study investigated the cultural value called “simpatia” in Spanish speaking countries that include traits like being polite, friendly, and helpful toward others. The investigators staged incidents in major cities of 23 countries and observed how frequently people were helpful. The Spanish speaking countries that valued simpatia all ranked relatively high in helpfulness. However, so did other countries that did not posses that unique social value, but perhaps possessed other cultural attributes requiring people to be helpful. For example Denmark ranked number 7 out of the 23 countries, and higher than 2 of the Spanish speaking countries. Cultural norms that support prosocial behavior are likely to encourage people to intervene and help when they see a need (Levine, Norenzayan, & Philbrick, 2001; Janoff-Bulman, & Leggatt, 2002).

6. The power of the situational context in determining prosocial behavior
We have seen in other studies on conformity and aggression discussed above that the situation is often more powerful than personality, or may overcome a person’s best intentions. Prosocial behavior is determined not solely by altruistic personal characteristics, but even more by the situational context a person finds himself in, and to which he is compelled to take note and respond. Among these situational contexts are the effects of rural versus urban environments, the number of people observing the event also called the bystander effect, environmental conditions, time pressures, and the nature of the relationships.

6.1 The culture of rural versus urban communities
You will recall from our discussion of aggression (see chapter 10) that geographical regions made a difference in the U.S. Southern regions with their culture of politeness and honor were much more likely to be aggressive in response to perceived insults or slights. Does it also make a difference to helping behavior if you live in different locations? The answer appears to be yes, as the difference between urban and rural life has an effect on prosocial behavior. Steblay (1987) examined 35 studies that investigated helping behavior in rural and urban environments and found that strangers were more likely to be helped in rural or small communities. A direct relationship existed between size of town and helping until the community got larger than 50,000, after which size did not matter.

Is it the socialization in the rural versus urban contexts that matter? Do children receive training that leads to more concern for others that lasts over the lifespan? Or is it the location that matters whether one is born and raised in this or another context? Some people are raised in big cities, but then move to small communities. Yet others were raised in small communities, but found a niche in the big city. As it turns out, it is not where you are born and socialized that matters, but where you live currently. The current social context is what contributes to helping behavior. As we shall see these situational determinants are powerful factors in prosocial behavior.

Milgram (1970) attributed lack of helping behavior in the urban context to stimulus overload. There are so many pressures in the urban environment that it is impossible to attend to all the stimuli. People living in cities learn to attend to the happenings that are most personally relevant, and respond to situations important for their individual survival. When we live in cities we narrow our focus and attend to the most personally relevant situations. Another plausible explanation focuses on the diversity that exists in modern cities. We know from other research that people help those who are similar in some significant way. In cities we find much more diversity in race, religion, education, and other significant variables, variables on which people are not similar. In the rural areas people are more likely to encounter similar people in educational achievement, income, and ethnic identity. In small communities people know each other, and may experience less diffusion of responsibility. You will recall that diffusion of responsibility occurs when there are more people present. In the diffusion of responsibility each individual feels less personally involved. In smaller communities it is not easy to avoid the call for help as one might encounter the needy person on a regular basis and feel guilt if not helping when needed.

Population density is even more important than size of population (Levine, Martinez, Brase, Sorenson, 1994). The more densely packed the population the less likely people are to help one another. Population density may also contribute to stimulus overload and the stress experienced in densely packed communities. All people need private space. When the situation does not provide that essential living condition we experience stress. We also know that criminality increases in high-density areas, a factor that interacts with stress, alienation, and hostile behavior. Remember when people do not feel good they are less likely to help. Stress by definition is an adverse experience, and therefore help explain the lower levels of help offered where the population density is higher. Population density also contributes to the bystander effect, the more people present the lower the sense of personal responsibility to intervene and help.

6.2 Intimate versus social exchange relationships
Most of the aforementioned research on prosocial behavior investigated the likelihood of people helping strangers. As we all know however, most helping occurs within family or friendship circles. Although social exchange theory suggests we help only those who provide benefits to us, when people are in intimate relationships there is a greater concern about long-term beneficial outcomes (Salovey et al, 1991). Close friends and parents know how to delay personal satisfaction in favor of helping someone who is close and intimate. Helping children succeed does not bring immediate benefits except internal satisfaction, and often at a great cost psychologically and financially. What parents look for is children’s long-term development, and the satisfaction of seeing the child succeed. In fact parents may be unconcerned about the benefits children bring since the focus is on the child and his welfare, and not personal outcomes.

Where there are some rewards in intimate relationships they tend to be long-term benefits in exchange for short-term costs (Batson, 1993). Some researchers believe that people in intimate relationships are not concerned at all with outcomes, but more with satisfying the needs of the other person (Clark & Grote, 1998; Mills & Clark, 2001). We tend to self-identify through intimate relationships, and it stands to reason that we are more likely to help those who are close to us in kinship or friendship.

In relationships based on social exchange people keep a close tally, you scratch my back and I will scratch yours. In social exchange relationships if I did you a favor by donating money to your campaign, I expect you to pursue my welfare by passing the law I want enacted.

6.3 The bystander effect: People who observe the event
Recall the case of Kitty Genovese who was murdered while some 38 neighbors observed and did nothing? Her case is sadly just one of many examples of the bystander effect. The murder was shocking to many, since it would have taken only a phone to call to police and get help for Kitty. Why did none of the neighbors step forward and take responsibility? Two young psychologists were touched by the crime and began to investigate the effect of the number of bystanders observing an event requiring assistance on helping behavior. They designed experiments in both naturalistic and laboratory settings to examine the bystander effect, i.e. the number of observers in situations requiring assistance (Latane & Darley, 1970; Latane & Dabs, 1975; Latane & Nida, 1981).).

In one study the experimenters staged a robbery in front of a salesclerk and two confederates acting as criminals. The criminals would come into the store while the clerk was in the back, pick up a case of beer or other merchandise, and then leave without paying. As expected when the customer was alone in the store they reported the crime to the clerk more frequently, than when several other customers were present. In another study reported by Latane and Darley the participants sat in individual cubicles when suddenly they heard a confederate calling out for help as if he was having a seizure. The confederate kept calling out for help while choking, and eventually fell silent. In fact the “other” participants were recorded voices kept standard for all the real subjects. In one condition the real participant was led to believe that he or she was alone with the other “participant”, in another condition that he/she was one of several others. When the participants thought they were alone in confronting the emergency 85 percent tried to help within 60 seconds, and 100 percent within 2 1/2 minutes. That number that assisted dropped to 62 percent when the participant believed one other person was present, and to 31 percent (within the first minute) when the participant thought that four other individuals were present in the experiment.

The bystander effect occurs the more people who witness an event requiring assistance are present and results in a lower likelihood that anyone will intervene. Latane and Darley concluded that when a large number of bystanders were present, the bystanders were less likely to notice the event requiring assistance, were less likely to assess the event as an emergency requiring intervention, and finally were less likely to assume personal responsibility for helping. Overall, across several studies investigating the bystander effect, 75 percent helped when alone, and only 53 percent when in the presence of other participants (Latane & Nida, 1981).

6.3.1 Noticing that something is happening
One of the reasons that people help less in urban environments is the sheer number of event requiring their attention, and therefore the need to focus on the most pertinent. Perhaps multidimensional demands for attention have the effect of habituation where a person learns to attend only to that which is narrowly and personally relevant, and to disregard anything else. In modern life people are in a hurry to make a buck and get ahead.

Some of you may remember the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan who stopped to help a wounded man when others were too busy to notice. Darley & Batson (1973) observed that even trivial factors like being in a hurry had an effect on helping behavior. The irony of this experiment was that it was conducted with students at Princeton University who were studying for the ministry and a life of service to others. One would think that these students were more altruistic than average, and had certainly studied the parable of the Good Samaritan. From that religious background one might draw the conclusion that the students would be likely to intervene and help a man slumped in a doorway and groaning with pain.

The students were told to go to an adjoining building to make a short speech. In one condition the students were advised that there was no rush as others were running late in performing the task in the other building. In the second condition the participants were told that they were late and should hurry to the assignment. As they walked to the nearby building they encountered the man in the doorway who obviously needed help. Whether they stopped to help however depended on the situation. When told that there was no rush 63 percent stopped to assist, whereas only 10 percent did when told they were in a hurry.

The investigators produced further irony in the experiment by varying the topic of the supposed speech that the students were required to give. Some participants were asked to discuss the type of work they would prefer, others were asked to discuss the parable of the Good Samaritan. As it turned out the topic made little difference as the students in a hurry were no more likely to help if the speech was to address the parable of the Good Samaritan or if the speech was on work preferences.

Noticing that something is happening is obviously a function of the ambiguity of the situation. When the emergency is clear cut, a man has fallen off a ladder and injured himself, most people would act and call the emergency services. In one study it was the verbalization of the injury that got assistance. When the victim did not ask for help or otherwise did not react to his injuries assistance was only provided 30 percent of the time (Clark & Wood, 1972). Clear cues of the emergency helps the bystander decide whether to help or not (Shotland & Huston, 1979). Cues that lead to intervention include the suddenness of the event, the clear threat to the victim, the likelihood that more harm would result from lack of intervention, and whether the victim is helpless. Of course it is also critical that you know how to help. If someone is drowning in your presence you may want to intervene, but can do little if you do not know how to swim or cannot call for other assistance. Other emergencies however require just a phone call as in the case of Kitty Genovese

6.3.2 Interpretation of the event as an emergency and pluralistic ignorance
How can we know an event is an emergency that requires us to intervene? The man slumped in the doorway could have been a habitual drunk whom we could not help, or on the other hand he might be really ill and we should call for emergency medical assistance. Remember we often look to others for assistance in interpreting what is happening. However, what if everyone is looking to others and seeing no one responding, assume that there is no emergency? When people observe an apparent lack of concern on the part of other bystanders, many assume that the event does not constitute an emergency.

In another experiment by Darley & Latane (1970) the participants completed a survey on attitudes toward problems of urban life. As they begin filling out the questionnaire the participants noticed white smoke coming into the room through a vent in the wall. Eventually the room was completely filled with smoke. You would think everyone participating would jump up and inquire of the experimenters or others what is happening? Perhaps the building was on fire and should be evacuated? What would you do in this situation? Well if you were alone chances are that you would respond in some way, 50 percent did within two minutes, and 75 percent within six minutes. However, in the other condition when there were three participants (including two confederates) the results were starkly different. Only 12 percent intervened within two minutes, and only 38 percent within the six-minute limit when at that time the room was filled with smoke. The investigators attributed these findings to pluralistic ignorance. When the smoke began to fill the room the participants looked to each other to interpret the event. When the confederates appeared to be untroubled by the smoke the actual participant assumed that nothing was wrong and stayed in the room (Solomon, Solomon, & Stone, 1978).

6.3.3 Assuming responsibility for helping
A major problem for the bystander is noticing that a real emergency exists requiring intervention. In the case of Kitty Genovese the emergency was obvious, since killing her took considerable time, and was watched intently by all (Rosenthal, 1964). Evidently the neighbors however did not see the emergency as a personal responsibility to intervene. In the case of the man slumped in the doorway there was some ambiguity, as the participants could not be sure of the cause of the man’s distress. Solomon, Solomon, & Stone (1978) investigated the ambiguity of the situational context in helping others among New York participants. When the situation was ambiguous the bystanders who were among others were less likely to help than when alone. Another experiment examined the effect of confederate responses as a source of ambiguity (Darley, Teger, & Lewis, 1973). The investigators required participants to either sit back to back or facing each other when an event was staged. Suddenly they heard a crash in the adjoining room as metal frames fell on the person working. When the participant noted the reaction or startle of another person they interpreted the crash as an emergency and interceded to help. The back-to-back condition allowed for more ambiguity since it was not possible to see the other person’s response.

Responsibility for assisting is also more likely when people feel competent to help (Cramer, McMaster, Bartell, & Dragna, 1988). We are not all trained in emergency procedures, but perhaps we should be as the evidence shows that the competent person intervenes more often to help others. A person is also more likely to help if he/she has some responsibility as a leader in the group (Baumeister, Chesner, Senders, & Tice, 1988). So anything that contributes to feelings of personal responsibility is likely to contribute to prosocial behavior (Markey, 2000). Of course diffusion of responsibility remains an important factor even when people are acting alone. When participants in one experiment were asked to think about the possibility of going to dinner with ten intimate friends, they were less likely to volunteer help or donate money, than when they were asked to think about going out with just one friend (Garcia, Weaver, Moskowitz, & Darley, 2002).

In a naturalistic study at the beach, the confederate neighbor of the actual subject goes for a swim while leaving behind her radio. After a short interval a thief comes by and takes the radio away. Would you intervene at that point? You could confront the thief and ask him about the radio, and ask him to put it back until the swimmer returns. In this study however only 20 percent felt it their personal responsibility to intervene (Moriarity, 1975). However, in the second condition when the owner of the radio asked the person to look after her things 95 percent intervened, so just asking someone to help increases feelings of personal responsibility. The greater care we show for intimate partners has to do with the personal responsibility we feel, and is an expression of the norm of social responsibility (Maruyama, Fraser, & Miller, 1982).

7. Weighing whether to help
As we saw above, different rules apply when we are helping a child or close friend as compared to a stranger or acquaintance. In helping non-intimate persons we are likely to weigh carefully the costs and benefits of intervening (Dovido, Piliavin, Gaertner, Schroeder, & Clark, 1991). Social exchange theory would predict that the greater the costs of helping the less likely you are in assisting someone. Practically anyone will give you the time, or directions to some location. These forms of assistance are low in cost. Trying to rescue someone from a burning building, or from drowning are high-risk situations where the helper may be putting his life in play.

Of course there are also benefits in helping other. The gratefulness of the person being helped, an award from the city or state, your name in the newspapers, all are recognitions experienced as rewards. This is not an argument for cold social exchange calculation by the numbers, but rather evidence of an intuitive and automatic calculation that occurs prior to any interaction with others. However, we have also argued for pure altruism. The act of saving someone does not allow time for reflection, and may occur impulsively. When a soldier jumps on top of a grenade about to explode to save his fellow soldiers there is no time to calculate. Such an act must be considered motivated by pure altruism.

7.1 Construal of the situation: The victim’s responses
The victim’s responses to an emergency are also vital to whether people will be motivated to help. Many situations are ambiguous and the emergency is not clear-cut. A Dutchman witnessing a street argument in Vietnam may not lead to any conclusion about any impending emergency. The language barrier of course is the most critical factor. Did someone who needed help cause the commotion? Facial features associated with emotion are universal, but was it possible to mistake the feeling communicated? In another well-traveled country, Cuba, people habitually speak loudly and even yell to each other in the street, yet without anger. Was it just two neighbors angry at each other for some imagined or real cause? There was no apparent victim who could be assisted so the experience remained ambiguous.

When a victim vocalizes his/her distress by cries of agony, and direct request for assistance to a specific person among the bystanders, they are more likely to get help (Schroeder, Penner, Dovido, & Piliavin, 1995). Often we are bystanders to only a part of the unfolding drama and see only part of the picture. In one study (Piliavin, Piliavin, & Broll, 1976) the bystander observed a confederate slowly faint and regain consciousness, whereas in the second less clear-cut situation the bystander observed the aftermath of an accident where the confederate was regaining consciousness. When the participants observed the entire drama of first fainting and then regaining consciousness they were much more likely to provide aid (89 percent of the time) compared to only 13 percent in the ambiguous situation. So help is more likely for the victim, if he/she can reduce ambiguity and make the need for help very clear, for instance by directing the request to a specific individual. A direct request such as “Hey you with the red hair, can you give me a hand I am having a heart attack” might get some response. If possible we need to make it clear to bystanders that the emergency is real, and be specific in asking for help from one bystander to counteract diffusion of responsibility.

7.2 Attribution of need and worthiness
Since charity is at times sought by unworthy people, bystanders seek to attribute the reasons that people ask for help. If the request is one that stimulates our sense of social responsibility, then the victim is attributed as worthy of assistance. For example people are more willing to help someone who appears sick and falls to the ground on a New York subway, than someone who also fell but appeared to be drunk (Piliavin, Rodin, & Piliavin, 1969). To be worthy of help the emergency situation must be attributed to forces outside the individual’s personal control and responsibility. For example students are more likely to help classmates with their lecture notes if the reason for the need is that the professor is a poor lecturer rather than if the student is a poor note taker (Meyer & Mulherin, 1980; Weiner, 1980). In general we have more sympathy for those people who are unfortunate victims of circumstance rather than for those who are perceived as responsible for their own problems (George, 1992).

Often people do not know what to do when confronted with a situation requiring helping behavior. To reduce ambiguity the victim, when possible, must directly address the spectators with words like “I don’t know this person”, “he is attacking me, help”, and these words should be directed personally to someone in the crowd. Intervention is more likely if you address your need for help to a specific person. In studies on shop lifting bystanders were more likely to intervene if the ambiguity of the situation was reduced (Bickman, 1979). Keep in mind that help just requires one person to act; once that happens others are likely to follow. People are looking to others present to interpret what is going on, and decisive action by one person may lead to support from others.

7.3 The social modeling of prosocial behavior
We have already observed that modeling or social learning produces more aggression. Could social learning have the same effect on prosocial behavior? In a classic study (Bryan & Test, 1967) the investigators placed a male confederate on the highway seemingly in the process of helping a stranded woman change the tire on her car, and then observed whether that exposure had an effect on helping behavior for another woman stranded a quarter mile down the road. In the control condition only the second stranded car was present. Would drivers who observed a helping model try to help the second woman more frequently than those who had not observed the model? The answer is yes, modeling prosocial behavior works. In another study people were more likely to donate blood if they had observed another (confederate) give consent to also donate blood (Rushton & Campbell, 1977).

We have so much evidence from the literature on social learning that there is little doubt that positive modeling of helping behavior encourages more prosocial intervention. Why cannot television or the movies provide more modeling of altruistic behavior rather than frequently presenting the dark side of human nature? When positive models are presented like in the current movie Spiderman, it is in the context of cartoon like characters and gratuitous violence that offer little hope for prosocial influence. If we worry about the state of society we have only to look at the modeling that occurs in the visual and printed media, and the culture of egoism it promotes.

7.4 Time pressures: When we are in a hurry
Keeping in mind the study by Darley and Batson (1973) we can see that being in a hurry prevents us from seeing an emergency and from taking personal responsibility. The seminarians that were late for the appointment seldom stopped to help much like the busy people in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Time pressure keeps many people from being involved in the life of others as such pressures are directed toward feelings of personal survival. When in a hurry we tend to be more narrowly focused, and unable to appreciate the gravity of other people’s emergencies.

Once personal motivation takes over, and the focus is on the self, other problems have lower priority. We live in a busy world where speed and efficiency is highly valued. Every year computers increase their power and speed, and economic growth is a function of such efficiencies. Independent societies with a focus on individual achievement do not encourage attention to the plights of others. Perhaps that is why money donations are popular in Western countries. Such donations do alleviate some of the guilt from not being more personally involved in the lives of our neighbors, or the suffering that occurs in other countries.

7.5 Reading or hearing about bystander effects lead to more helping
In one study participants heard a lecture or saw a movie that discussed how bystander effect inhibits helping behavior (Beaman, Barnes, Klentz, & McQuirk, 1978). After an interval of two weeks the participants were faced with a situation that required their intervention. A fellow student was found lying on the floor obviously in need of help. The experiment contained two conditions. In one situation the participants were with a confederate who did nothing to help. In the other experimental condition the participant was alone. Regardless of the condition, the students who had learned about bystander effects were more likely to intervene. This suggests the important practical utility of social psychological knowledge also found in the Milgram/Larsen experiments on laboratory aggression. When people learn the meaning of these aggression experiments, they were inoculated somehow, and therefore less likely to be manipulated in the future.

Likewise discussing the bystander effect in the classroom or in the larger society may increase concern for others and reduce the bystander effect. Recently, the U.S. news television CNN had a report (CNN, June 4, 2007) during the “Anderson hour” discussing the bystander effect. The case involved the hijacking of the car of a 94-year old man. As in the Kitty Genovese case a group of people observed the attack by the 22-year-old thug, and did nothing to intervene. To the credit of CNN, social psychologists were interviewed and given an opportunity to review the research on the bystander effect to the public. There is hope that such society wide education may have some impact and reduce the bystander effect. We will have more to say about this in section 8.1.

7.6 The stranger we help
The characteristics of the stranger in crisis and in need of help are also significant to whether help is offered. We are more likely to give change for a euro or dollar than intervene in a violent crime so the cost of helping matters. For example, in one study (Piliavin & Piliavin, 1972) a victim staggers out of a subway train and collapses on the ground. In one condition the victim has a small amount of blood on his chin, in the other condition there is no blood. What condition is more likely to receive help do you think? The victim with blood could possible need more help since at least there is a sign of some injury. However, the opposite is what happened, the person who did not show blood was helped 95 percent of the time, whereas the victim with blood was helped only 65 percent of the time. How do we explain this discrepancy? The researchers suggested that the presence of blood indicated to the bystander that it might be more costly to assist, perhaps an ambulance had to be called, or first aid of some kind provided for which some of the bystanders had no preparation.

7.6.1 Similarity to the victim
Other studies show that we are also more likely to help those who are similar to ourselves, from the same ethnic or national group (Latane & Nida, 1981). Bystanders are more likely to help similar others in a variety of studies (Dovido, 1984) perhaps for reasons of kinship, or empathy with those of the same background. Only few people intervene as Good Samaritans and help the true stranger. Other species show similar behavior, being willing to help members of their own species. Some studies have shown that primates will even be willing to starve if it prevents electrical shock from being administered to other members of their group (Preston & De Waal, 2002).

How we dress conveys our values, so similarity also works in how we overtly manifest our beliefs. The large majority of those approached by similarly dressed others asking for a dime to make a telephone call were helped (Emswiller et al, 1971). However, if someone dropped a political opponent’s posters or leaflets in front of you would you help pick them up from the ground? In one study conducted during the Nixon versus McGovern presidential contest in the U.S., the majority would stoop to help the person who campaigned for the favorite candidate, but only a minority would help the campaigner for the opposition candidate (Karabenick, Lerner, & Beecher, 1973).

7.6.2 Gender and the vulnerable
The perception of need also interacts with the desire to help. Those who are vulnerable in our society are more likely to receive help. Eagly & Crowley (1986) summarized the results of 35 studies of strangers receiving help. Their results showed that female victims were more likely to receive help from male bystanders than males needing assistance. Again that outcome must be based on the protector norms that exist in most societies in prescribing proper male behavior toward females. As we saw previously, if a female has a flat tire, men are more likely stop and help, than if the victim needing help is male (Penner, Dertke, & Achenbach, 1973; West, Whitney, & Schnedler, 1975). In most societies men are expected to know how to change car or motorcycle tires, so perhaps that is the major motivation for not helping other males.

Likewise female hitchhikers are more likely to get a ride (Snyder, Grether, & Keller, 1974). That might be explained by the lower threat presented by female riders since attacks on drivers are not unknown these days. On the other hand men may also be attracted to the woman, and perhaps hope for an opportunity to get to know her better. In general attractive females are more likely to get help than those less attractive (Stroufe, Chaikin, Cook, & Freeman, 1977; West and Brown, 1975).

One of the reasons that women get more help is that they are willing to ask for assistance. In our society we have the stereotype of the male driver who is lost in the city and drives for hours without asking for assistance. He can manage to find it by himself, he reasons, and he does not need or want any help. Women by contrast will if lost behave in a more sensible manner, and stop at the first safe opportunity to ask for directions (Addis & Mahalik, 2003). These gender differences seem to reflect the general difference in independence in males versus interdependence in females (Nadler, 1991). Men worry that they might appear incompetent, and often will rather suffer than seek help (Schneider, Major, Luhtanen, & Crocker, 1996).

Men are more likely to suffer from drug or alcohol abuse problems, but are less likely to seek help. Likewise men are less likely to seek help for medical or psychiatric problems. Typically men in our society try to live up to a veneer of toughness, and rely on their own resources to solve problems. Sadly, some men wait too long with medical issues, which may explain partly the longer lifespan of women. Men want to be independent, whereas women’s interdependence promotes her willingness to seek help.

7.6.3 Attributions of the victim and helper
Being willing to help depends on the attribution of a person needing assistance. We may want to help those in need, but are wary of helping those we attribute unworthy motives for wanting help. Many charity scams have been revealed in the media, so wealthy people find a readymade excuse for not helping by attributing selfish motives to those requesting assistance. Many people find it easy to refuse help by insisting that there is no real emergency, or the situation is blown all out of proportion to any “real” need. Only when we are convinced that the victim is not responsible for his/her plight, that the emergency is a consequence of forces the victim could not control, do most people feel sympathy and are willing help the individual (Schmidt & Weiner, 1988).

There may also be psychological barriers present that prevent a needy person from seeking help (Vogel & Wester, 2003). Here the outcome depends on the attributions by the victim. If he can attribute his misfortune to forces beyond his control he is more likely to feel good in asking for help. None of us like to feel that our difficulties or problems are a result of personal inadequacy or poor decision-making. It helps our self-esteem if we can attribute our unemployment for example to the economy or heartless companies rather than to the lack of personal preparation (Fisher, Nadler, & Whitcher-Alagna, 1982).

7.6.4 Culture and the acceptance of help
Since self-esteem is important people will also want to assess the motives of those who want to help. If others genuinely care about us we are likely to accept help (Ames, Flyn, & Weber, 2004). However, if we perceive condescension in the prosocial behavior of others, we may feel that accepting help reflects poorly on our person and that undermines our self-identity. In independent societies many people will not seek needed help because they believe it reflects inadequacy on their part and produces poor self-esteem.

Since the norm of reciprocity is strong in our society, accepting help is more acceptable if it involves some exchange. The need for reciprocity might be observed in the free meal provided at Salvation Army, exchanged by the needy person in listening to a religious message. In another, typical American, example, a needy person might accept a welfare check from society, and feel better if in turn he can perform some service or labor for the community. People are more likely to seek help if they can provide some compensation. Nearly all help between intimate people involves some form of exchange. At Christmas time in the Western world we exchange gifts, and if we help a friend we feel better about asking for his help in the future (Wills, 1992). In our independent societies we do not like to be dependent on others.

Reactance theory (Brehm, 1966) suggests that when we perceive a threat to our sense of personal freedom we react with annoyance and anger. However, the nature of our existence shows that all people need help sometime in their lives. As we age we need help in a variety of ways, getting dressed or simply being fed, are small but necessary ways of helping the aging population. Few people manage to go through life without assistance at some point. We have accidents that require surgery, or may be otherwise disabled. In recent years researchers have studied the reactions of older people needing help (Newsom, 1999). Unfortunately, as predicted by reactance theory older people often feel that the help attributes weakness and dependency to them, without being able to give anything in return. Helplessness in old age negatively impact on self-esteem.

It would seem reasonable to believe that people in interdependent and collectivist societies do not feel the same way about receiving help as those living in Western countries. The difficulty of men in Western societies in seeking assistance emerges from strong social norms of independence and self-sufficiency. In independent societies needing help may be seen as a weakness, whereas in other cultural environments it may be a natural request that makes it incumbent on other members of society to provide the needed help.

8. How to increase helping behavior in society and the world
In this chapter we have learned something about the altruistic personality, the type of person who might help a stranger in need. Anything we can do to raise people with these characteristics would also increase helping behavior in the world (Snyder, 1993). We also know from social psychology that powerful situational forces can overrule even the best intentions of people. We know that people are more likely to overcome these situational effects if they know about them in advance, and have been educated as to the likely behavior of people watching an emergency.

8.1. Education and the bystander effect
Examples that learning about social psychology does matter in people’s behavior are emerging from a number of parallel studies. In one case a student led an effort to prevent another student from committing suicide. Later she said that what caused her to intervene was having heard in class a discussion on bystander intervention a few days earlier, and the sure knowledge that it was up to her to take action (Savitsky, 1998). In another incident a student was being mugged in front of other students. One of the bystanders however decided to call the police as she saw the similarity between that current situation and what happens in other bystander cases like the Kitty Genovese (Coats, 1998). If discussion on the bystander effect was universally required in elementary and high schools, might it change people’s willingness to help?

In one study (Beaman, Barnes, Klentz, & McQuirk, 1978) the effect of education was addressed experimentally. Among the participants who had heard the bystander lecture 43 percent stopped to help in the experiment, whereas only 25 percent of those who had not previously listened to the information on bystander intervention, did it. It would appear that the world would be a better place with more education on intervening to help victims occurring at all levels of education. Consider the problem of bullying discussed in an earlier chapter. With information on bystander inaction, would more students be likely to intervene or to help the victim? Only an experimental study on the direct effect of education on bullying would answer that important question.

8.2 The personal approach and helping behavior
Anything we can do to make helping personal (see 7.1) will activate the sense of social responsibility that most of us experience as normative requirements. For example, if we ask someone personally to donate blood they are more likely to help (Jason, Rose, Ferrari & Barone, 1984). Hitchhikers have long known the effectiveness of the personal appeal. The successful hitchhiker often looks the driver directly in the eyes as a way of establishing contact (Solomon & Solomon, 1978). Anything we do to make ourselves known to others by way of personal introduction, or recognition is likely to increase helping behavior at a later point. If we anticipate meeting the person needing help again at a later time, that too increases our sense of responsibility and our willingness to help (Gottlieb & Carver, 1980). In general anything that reduces anonymity and increases self-awareness is likely to contribute to prosocial behavior (Duval, Duval, & Neely, 1979).

Sometimes feelings of guilt at not helping in one situation can be induced with the consequence of increasing willingness to help at another time. When students were asked to chaperon delinquent children on an excursion to the zoo, only 32 percent agreed. However, when they were first asked to help with a very large request such as committing to help delinquent youth for two years (which got universal refusal), and then were asked to chaperone for the zoo trip, 56 percent agreed. The initial refusal produced guilt that in turn was reduced by agreeing to the smaller request. The reverse of that also works. If you ask for a contribution that no one can refuse, chances are that many more will contribute, and when they do they will contribute at least the average (Weyant & Smith, 1987).

8.3 Helping others on a long-term basis
The above discussion refers primarily to helping others in an emergency. However, there are many situations that require the steadiness of helping over the long run. For example the hospice movement in the U.S. and in Europe helping dying people is built upon volunteer assistance. Many other organizations like the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Cancer Prevention organizations, Heart Associations, Humane Societies for protection of Animals, Organizations for the Protection of the Environment, all rely greatly on people’s willingness to contribute over the long haul (Penner, 2002). It is curious that in the most independent of all countries, the United States, one also finds the largest number of volunteers (Ting & Paliavin, 2000). Perhaps it is because other advanced countries have social safety networks built into their societies so less volunteer labor is required? In developing countries so much effort is required to survive that few people have time or energy to volunteer for others.

8.4 Making prosocial behavior more central to our culture
We know that bigotry derives at least in part from the desire to exclude certain categories from human fellowship (Opotow, 1990; Tyler & Lind, 1990). The Ku Klux Klan does not consider those of different races, religions, or political convictions to be fully human. They seek a society that would only include whites, Protestants, with a bias toward conservatism in their political outlook. Those who are willing to kill or maim others solely on the basis of such differences practice social exclusion and we can see their handiwork from Darfur to Iraq. Think how often very minor differences in religion (Shite versus Sunni, Catholic versus Protestants), or politics (Stalinists versus Trotskyites), or race (White versus Black) have caused immense injury to humankind. There is a lesson from that, to practice moral inclusion, to express the willingness to see all people as part of the same human race. People who are inclusive view all humanity as derived from a common heritage. From the biological perspective of course, it cannot be any other way. We all derive from common ancestors, and ethnic or racial differences have emerged over time from environmental conditions and relative geographical isolation.

Again people can learn something from social psychology, keeping in mind the research on ingroup favoritism, even when the group categorization is nonsensical (Doise, Csepeli, Dann, Gouge, Larsen, & Ostell, 1972). We are seeing good examples of inclusiveness from people known in the entertainment industry helping greatly with the AIDS crisis in Africa. More people today have a concern for the well-being of strangers living far away. Many religions teach the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind, but alas also define narrowly that salvation comes from inclusion among the select. Likewise Marxism took the red flag as a symbol of the universal kinship of humanity, but we still saw societies evolving in Eastern Europe that had little concern for others beyond narrow national and political camp interests. Yet, any world worth living in must inculcate prosocial behavior and inclusion must become a universal value in the cultures of the future.

8.5 Shifting from social to selfless motivation
From previous studies on the jigsaw puzzle we know that the overjustification effect undermines intrinsic motivation. This is also true for altruistic behavior. Whereas people may be flattered by praise over the short run, only when the person feels genuinely selfless will he have the motivation to sustain helping behavior. Although some companies more or less require their employees to volunteer, research shows that such external incentives are counterproductive. The more we require people to “volunteer”, the less they are likely to do it when away from external constraints (Stukas, Snyder, & Clary, 1999). Making long term contributions are best sustained when they derive from a genuine desire to make a difference, and to contribute to the betterment of the world. In the jig saw puzzle studies we saw that some encouragement may be useful, but if reward continues it leads to lower motivation, the student will be less interested in solving math problems.

Batson, Cochran, Biederman, Blosser, Ryan, & Vogt (1978) and Batson, Coke, Jasnoski, & Hanson (1978) investigated the effect of compliance or compassion on subsequent altruistic feelings. They found initially that students felt most altruistic when they performed services without implied or real reward or social pressure. In a second experiment attributions were manipulated so some participants attributed their helpfulness to compliance, and others to compassion. Subsequently when asked to volunteer for a local service organization, 25 percent did so if they thought they had complied, whereas 60 percent volunteered if they attributed their previous helpfulness to compassion. These studies show that what we think about our helpful behavior and ourselves has behavioral consequences.

To sustain prosocial behavior in the long run it is most effective to shift motives from social bases to internal self-motivation. In one study Batson, Fultz, Schoenrade, & Paduano (1987) asked students to think of some act that they did for others at great cost to themselves. When the participants began to reflect on the complex reasons for helping it decreased the feelings of altruism. Although many people engage in prosocial behavior because of social encouragement, these behaviors will only be sustained if the helper shifts away from these initial rewards. For example American Churches often encourage their members to donate blood, and most people can do that once or twice with little encouragement. But what causes people to donate again and again over the course of many years? Only those who develop an altruistic self-image will continue to contribute, when they come to believe “that I am the kind of person that helps” (Callero & Piliavin, 1983; Goleman, 1985).

8.6 The social learning of inclusion
Prosocial behavior is learned in the course of socialization. Parents have the most power in developing the self-image of their children. It is therefore not surprising that those willing to risk all to save victims of persecution, or fight for civil rights of Black people, have at least one parent with whom they had a close and warm relationship and who became a moral model for behavior (London, 1970; Oliner & Oliner, 1988). In certain families socialization includes the social responsibility norm that we have a responsibility to be inclusive and care for others. Having altruism modeled by parents is a powerful contribution to the next generation and to what must be hoped an increasingly kind world.

What caused relatively wealthy white students in the US to join the Peace Corps? One important factor is that they had internalized these altruistic behaviors by watching someone they admired engaging in helping behavior. At the same time exclusion of others on the basis of arbitrary criterion justifies a whole range of inhuman behaviors from discriminating in the work place to annihilation of entire peoples (Opotow, 1990; Staub, 1990). The prisoners at Quantanamo are not given the normal rights of the Geneva Convention, because they do not belong to the category of enemy combatants, but to an arbitrarily selected category of “unlawful combatants”. That exclusion by the U.S. government in turn allows for torture, secret trials, and disregarding rules of evidence.

8.7 Helping self, helping others
In recent years we have observed the growth of self-help groups in a variety of areas. Many of these groups were modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, and base their organizations on similar ideas of confronting the self with the dysfunctional behavior, and providing the social support necessary to change. Today self-help groups combat drug addictions, help people reduce weight to healthy proportions, support coping with gambling addictions, help patients deal with terminal illness, and much more (Medvene, 1992). Self-help groups are successful because they are conducted by people who have empathy, who have themselves been victims of addictions, or are going through the crisis of illness. When you have walked part of the journey of addictions you also create credibility in helping other victims, and the message conveyed is more likely to be convincing resulting in needed attitude and behavioral change. Self-help groups are also cost efficient since volunteers run many of these programs. Some of the volunteers have also become professionals who make a living from helping others. In fact it is an important aspect of staying away from drugs and from abusing alcohol to continue to be involved in helping others. Alcoholics Anonymous urges those in recovery to seek social support and give support by sponsoring others and attending sobriety meetings over the life span.

Today we can also observe the Internet being used to offer help via chat rooms. The Internet is becoming an important source for information and self-help. Victims of disease can now go on the Internet to learn about causes as well as treatments offered. In 2003 there were already more than 100,000 websites that provide patient information (Kalichman, Benotsh, Austin, Luke, & Chauncey, 2003) and that number has increased exponentially. It is easier to get advise from the computer than asking doctors or other people. The information is readily available in seconds on a variety of topics. Asking a computer for help is less costly and does not involve any norms of reciprocity for helping. In one study (Karabenick & Knapp, 1988) participants were required to complete a very difficult and complex computer task. Half of the participants were told they could get help from a human assistant, the other half that they could find the answers on the computer. The results showed that only 36 percent asked for help from the assistant, whereas 86 percent requested help from the computer and more than once. One interpretation is that it is less psychologically costly to obtain information from the computer than asking a person for help. This is of course just the beginning of the computer age. What developments we may see in the future are only limited by our imagination.

9. The focus on positive behavior
Seligman (2002) noted the obvious when he said that much of psychology has focused on the dark side of humankind. Clinical psychology has concentrated its efforts on understanding mental disorders, but has paid little attention to how we can promote psychological health. Social psychology’s major efforts have concentrated on the dark human attributes of prejudice, discrimination, hostility and aggression, and less on the positive aspects of life. It can of course be argued that the dark topics are those that demand attention because of the damage to individuals, families, and society. However, not all social psychology has focused on the dark areas of human existence. For example in this book we have also discussed the importance of high self-esteem, how to develop lasting and joyful relationships with others, and how intrinsic motivation provides for sustained helpful behavior. This chapter has had a focus on how to make the world a more helpful place. The bystander effect research, that shows peoples’ indifference to the suffering of strangers when in the presence of others, has a silver lining. As we have shown learning about the bystander effect has caused participants to take action to help that they may not have done so without that information. Likewise those who participated in laboratory studies on aggression may have been inoculated against harmful manipulations in the future. So even if the focus of the research has been on the dark aspects of behavior, the outcome may provide encouragement for more compassionate and helpful behavior.

Although many psychologists believe that all behavior is motivated by selfish motives, there are social psychologists who believe otherwise. Batson, Ahmad, Lishner, & Tsang, (2002) have argued for the presence of pure altruism in human behavior. At least some people are willing to help others even when it entails great personal costs, and some are willing to give their all to help the persecuted. Feeling empathy toward others seems a critical variable in whether such pure altruism occurs to support helping behavior.

Having empathy not only promotes more positive attitudes toward the victim, but also more broadly toward the group to which she or he belongs (Batson et al, 1997). Participants listened to tapes of a woman who had been infected with the AIDS virus, or they listened to a homeless man. Half of the participants were asked to take an empathic perspective trying to imagine the feelings and the situation of the person they listened to on the tape. The other half was told to be objective, to remain detached and not to be involved in the emotions of the victim. The important issue in this study was not whether they would be more likely to help the victim being part of the empathic condition, but rather did they change their attitude toward the group of people (AIDS victims and the homeless) being depicted in the interviews. In fact the results showed that participants in the emphatic condition developed more positive attitudes toward all people with AIDS as well as homeless people.

The important lesson is to promote activities that produce empathy beyond just helping the individual. What does it feel like to be an AIDS victim, or a discriminated person, or being someone suffering with cancer or serious illness? When we create empathy for these people as a group, we socialize others who are willing to volunteer over the long run, and who vote for policies that are humanitarian. In an ultimate sense we need to create empathy for all people who suffer in the world, to create sufficient motivation to move governments to end policies creating war, genocide, or large scale suffering in remote parts of the world. We all come from common ancestors; we all face the same human conditions of mortality. People love their children in all societies, and culture has evolved to help people survive and cope with the challenges of both life and dying. With that common empathetic base should come not only the recognition of our relatedness, but also a desire to help.

The Kitty Genovese case and the September 11 attacks showed different aspects of bystander intervention and altruistic behavior. In the first case apparent indifference to the suffering of a neighbor, in the second crisis people moved beyond prosocial behavior, and intervened at great cost even giving their lives to help others. To understand these events we must first understand the definition of altruistic and prosocial behavior. We can determine the nature of helping behaviors by examining the motives for helping. Altruistic behavior focuses on the other person, and is engaged in for selfless motives. On the other hand prosocial behavior is more broadly defined as helping behavior that may include ego-based motives like social recognition, or the expectation of social exchange.

The question of why we help others points to several theories. Social exchange theory proposes that before we help someone we weigh the cost and benefits of intervening. We help others because we believe we gain some benefit from doing so. Social norms point to the socialization process during which norms of social responsibility, reciprocity and social justice are inculcated and internalized. Evolutionary motives derive from the role played by helping behavior in survival of the relevant gene pool. From an evolutionary perspective internalized behavior derives from the predisposition to engage in behavior that has utility for survival of kinship and closely related others. The evolutionary perspective does not require that genes make a contribution to individual survival, but rather to those closely related who carry the genes to the next generation. Research shows that we have visual cues of kinship, and that altruistic behaviors have distinct physiological concomitants. From the evolutionary perspective even social motives like social exchange and reciprocity exist because they too contribute to cooperation and survival. Those who learn the norms best are likely to be among those who pass their genes onward. Critiques of evolutionary theory point out that there is no survival value in helping complete strangers (except we do share 99 plus percent in genetic inheritance with all humanity), and at any rate helping behavior can be understood from the perspective of psychological constructs.

The cases for pure altruism come from studies manipulating empathy for victims. Some research suggests that empathy is related to similarity between the needy person and the helper. Batson and his colleagues have however shown that empathy produces pure selfless behavior. These theories of altruism can be understood as offering explanation at different levels of constructs. Social exchange theory understands helping at the psychological level as the individual weighting outcomes. Social norms explain helping behavior at the sociological level where it is seen as a consequence of the internalization of social norms. Evolutionary theory offers an explanation at the biological level as the individual responds to genetic predisposition to help kinfolk. Eventually social psychology must creatively combine these viewpoints in an overall eclectic theory of altruism.

While the power of the situation has been demonstrated in many social psychological studies there is research pointing to lasting altruistic personality traits. Some relevant individual differences that are stable over time include empathy, self-efficacy, and emotionality. These traits interact with powerful situational factors in producing altruistic behavior. Self-identification as a helping person is important. Likewise social learning from altruistic models is also crucial to the development of individuals willing to sacrifice all to save the persecuted. Gender differences have an impact on all social behavior including altruism. Men’s roles as protectors, greater athletic training, and upper body strength make it more likely that they will engage in heroic acts to save someone. On the other hand women excel in nurturing and long-term commitment, and in displaying the moral courage to save the persecuted. Religious persuasion makes little difference in small case emergencies, but does contribute to long-term commitment as part of the religious person’s ethical outlook. A religious person is likely to volunteer to help the poor, AIDS victims, or help alleviate suffering in various parts of the world.

Mood differences may also contribute to prosocial behavior. Good moods lead to more helping. Social psychologists have enhanced moods by means of music and pleasant odors and observed the increase in consequent helping behavior. Guilt is a lasting emotion experienced as psychological pain. The place of guilt in human history can be observed from the use of scapegoats on which the guilt of the people was placed. Mankind may also escape the burden of guilt by engaging in prosocial behavior. Our cultural upbringing also makes a contribution to our individual differences. Kinship selection may be responsible for why people help close kin in all cultures. However, as we have seen throughout this book the socialization in interdependent and independent cultures makes for behavioral differences. In interdependent cultures the needs of the people in the ingroup are of foremost importance. In independent cultures people are more likely to donate time and money to help people in outgroups. Some societies also cultivate helping norms and behavior.

However, we cannot underestimate the power of the situational context. The research points for example to reliable differences between rural and urban communities. Rural people are likely to experience less diffusion of responsibility, less stimulus overload, more kinship and less diversity, and more personal relationships, all characteristics that sustain helping behavior. It is important to note that it is not where you are socialized that matters most, but rather the current context, rural or urban, that determines helping behavior.

Although most research in prosocial behavior has focused on helping strangers, in fact most helping behavior occurs within intimate circles of family and friends. Parents typically put their children first, and in any event are willing to wait for any return of their investment for the long run.

The bystander effect is the most frequently studied situational factor. These studies have reliably shown that help is less likely in the presence of others and suggests some specific steps need to occur before helping becomes likely. Intervention depends firstly on noting that something is happening that requires intervention. In urban areas people suffer from stimulus overload that leads to a narrow focus on personally relevant events. Other factors in urban life, like being in a hurry, or the ambiguity of the situation make it less likely that intervention will occur. Further the event has to be construed to be an emergency. Since we look to others for clues on how to behave, pluralistic ignorance may prevent intervention. If other people react as if the event is of little importance you may decide it is not an emergency that requires help. Finally, someone has to assume responsibility and lead by example. That in turn depends on feelings of self-efficacy, internalized social responsibility, and diffusion of responsibility.

In weighing whether to help strangers we are more concerned about the costs and benefits. However, the construal of the situation also matters. How does the victim respond may be an important clue as to whether help is required. Likewise attribution of need and the worthiness of the victim to receive aid determine intervention. We help when we see that the misfortune is not a consequence of individual responsibility and is outside the victim’s control. Social modeling also contributes to prosocial behavior. Those who have positive contributing models are more likely to help in donating or other prosocial activities. Time pressures matter as they relate to motives of enhancement and survival. We can observe inoculation effects, as those who hear or read about bystander effects are more likely to help in subsequent situations. Characteristics of the person we are helping also play a role including similarity, gender, and vulnerability. Attributions of the victim by the helper, and of the helper on the part of the victim also matter. In independent societies people guard their sense of self-esteem, and will often not seek help unless it comes from a genuine desire to help. On the other hand in interdependent societies the social self is more broadly defined as inclusive of others, and people are therefore more likely to accept help from others.

How can we improve on helping behavior in the world? Research supports the idea of educating people on such issues as the bystander effect. Likewise where the victim can reduce ambiguity, and the helper is aware of pluralistic ignorance, more help can be expected. A personal approach in asking for help is a most powerful variable. On the other hand long-term helping is most likely when the potential helper has internalized prosocial behavior as part of self-identification. Other suggestions point to the need to make prosocial behavior more central to the culture in which we live, and promote more inclusiveness in how we define those who need our help. Such a society would also require us to move from selfish to more selfless motivation. Important to altruistic behavior is the presence of at least one significant and admired other who models inclusion and with whom the helper has a warm and close relationship. Self-help groups such as alcoholics anonymous are part of most Western societies, as are other organizations now responding to the needs to control other addictions. The Internet also offers services for example in understanding illnesses, and chat rooms for social support.

Social psychology has invested many resources in understanding the dark aspects of human existence. In recent years we have seen more an emphasis on positive psychology focusing on the health of the individual and society. In this book we have highlighted some important aspects of a positive psychology including promotion of high self-esteem, joyful relationships, and intrinsic motivation. A positive psychology must help make people aware to move from a focus on individual suffering to the entire category of sufferers. That is a difficult leap for some people.

Being Human. Chapter 12: Morality: Competition, Justice And Cooperation

As we watch the news each day, and interact with others in society, our sense of right and wrong may often be aroused. There is a great deal of evidence in social psychology pointing to the negative effects of selfish and unbridled competition. People at times express extreme egoism in their behavior to the detriment of others, and the remedy may require legal sanctions. Fortunately, as we saw in the last chapter there are also people who seek to act in cooperative ways, and try to reconcile people in conflict. Conflict situations often call for moral judgment. What is right and wrong in the dispute and where is the common ground? Do you approve of murder as long as it is your enemy? How about killing in a just war as you have defined it? What about infanticide where illness or lack of resources makes the future seem impossible for the child? How about assisted suicide for the hopelessly ill? These issues and many other challenges all require moral judgment.

Perhaps you have taken note of how people live in other countries and cultures. Some behaviors like polygamy or polyandry may strike you as odd, but do they also require moral judgment? In that case we can see that moral judgment is not universally similar as social conventions vary on marriage and other social practices in different cultures. How about a situation where parents deliberatively starve their children to death? Is that universally rejected, do you think people find that acceptable in any culture? Deliberate killing of children is probably not acceptable in modern societies, so there is also evidence for some universality of moral judgment.

1. Moral judgment and culture
How we define morality is of primary concern in moral judgment. What do we use to guide our thinking as we make judgment about right or wrong, good or bad? People rely on guides to live a life that is ethically acceptable. Some people use religious or humanistic scripture to make moral choices. Others believe they hear a little internal voice that warns them of moral compromise. Ethical principles determine a great deal of social behavior, from the paying of money owed to the election of government leaders and political parties. Moral judgment is central in the so-called war on terrorism. It has influenced both sides in the war on their attitudes toward killing and who might be considered innocent parties to the conflict. One side thinks that there are no innocent “infidels”; the other side defines all military opposition as terrorism. Nevertheless both positions are moral judgments based on ethics, which are derived from custom, religion, and social categorization.

1.1 Defining moral behavior
Morality is defined as the principles that guides our lives and which we use in making judgments about the behavior of others (Haidt, 2001). In a broader sense morality is what we consider ideal the utopian society that we hope for in the future. Moral principles incur obligations on us, and to a large extent determine our behavior toward self and others. Moral principles in society generally apply to all people. We would consider it hypocritical to tell our children to behave in a certain moral way, if we ourselves do not practice the same ethical principle. Likewise for a country if the morality of a society calls for peaceful relations with others it is hypocritical to carry unprovoked war to the shore of other nations. Moral principles are inclusive applying to everyone within the group, be it religious, nation, or other society. Human behavior is far from perfect, and we all violate moral obligations at times. Society, for instance, imposes a requirement not to steal from others in the community. If a member of the community violates this obligation society imposes sanctions. Sanctions vary widely in various cultures from a figuratively slap on the wrist to actually cutting off the offending hand in some Middle Eastern societies. Like in China, many states in the U.S. still have capital punishment for some crimes.

1.2 Culture and morality
Cross-cultural research points to support the universality of moral principles. For example children in various countries consider the idea of doing harm to others as immoral by age ten (Turiel, 2002). From evolutionary development humans have developed horror responses to the maiming and destruction of other humans, emotions that we share with other primates. Humans everywhere deal with similar conditions of life that provide a universal basis for ethics and morality. Universal moral principles develop from common issues of our mortality, the issues around childrearing and maintaining the integrity of family life. These communalities, the universal experiences that we all have in common, are the basis of moral judgments in all cultures. Not harming others and promoting the sanctity of basic human rights appears to be universal. At the same time culture molds and rationalizes moral obligations creating cultural differences. The Taliban’s harsh punishment regime versus how similar offenses are treated in the West shows an extreme example of the cultural variations in both moral obligations and sanctions. Within society religious communities vary widely in the moral evaluations of different behaviors. For some societies sexual purity is of supreme importance, whereas others view human sexuality primarily as a social convention of choice.

Cultures differ in whether the behavior in question is considered a matter of absolute moral obligation or whether it is a social convention demanding conformity (Kohlberg, 1976; Turiel, 2002). Certain socio-political concepts are presented as matters of absolute moral judgment including values such as freedom of the individual, individual rights, and equality before the law. Other societies because of their cultural history including the influence of religion have a broader definition of morality that includes personal sexual purity (Rozin, Lowery, Imada, & Haidt, 1999; Vasquez, Keltner, Ebenbach, & Banaszynski, 2001). Religions have purification rites in many cultures, which are incumbent on all members of society including baptism in Christian churches.

In all societies it is possible to distinguish between moral transgressions referring to the violation of the rights of others, and the violation of social convention referring to rules governing acceptable behavior. Social convention determines how we dress, how we wear our hair, and how we decorate our bodies. Social conventions also circumscribe how to address and salute others, the basic rules of courtesy that maintain social distance and privacy. The main difference between cultures is that in some societies moral transgressions are viewed as violations of social conventions to be sanctioned with a raised eyebrow whereas in other societies similar transgressions are considered morally wrong. Comparing Indian and American participants in a study many behaviors that Americans saw as violation of convention were considered moral transgressions among Indian respondents (Shweder, Much, Mahapatra, & Park, 1997).

Schweder et al (1997) suggested that morality could be understood as based on three types of ethics. The ethic of autonomy emphasizes the rights and equality of the individual. An ethic of community defines the duties, status, social hierarchies, and the interdependence of members of groups. Individual members learn about social roles and sense of identity from this ethic. The ethic of divinity refers to personal purity guarding the individual from sinful behavior that degrade and contaminate life. Most people in the West would not pay much attention to personal purity seeing behavior as a personal choice. Yet, we can note from the use of language that people are often condemned even in the West when they appear as impure. The homeless and drug addicts are often chastised for being dirty and in need of physical and perhaps spiritual purification. The Salvation Army tries to meet the needs of both (bath and food).

2.3 Social cognition and morality
Some moral judgments are based on emotional intuition and without evaluative social cognition. All cultures condemn incest in moral terms that is often accompanied by expressions of disgust. Reaction to incestuous behavior tends to be immediate, nearly universal, and without complex rationalizations. However, culture may modify what type of relationship is considered incestuous, but once that is defined the reaction is immediate. Greene & Haidt (2002) and Haidt (2003) also showed that harm-related emotions and self-critical emotions brought immediate reactions, including increased prosocial behavior (Batson & Shaw, 1991), and moral behavior (Higgins, 1987; Keltner & Anderson, 2000). Feelings of awe are felt in the praising of the noble behavior of others (Haidt, 2003; Keltner & Haidt, 2003). Disgust and contempt, on the other hand, underlie what is considered immoral behavior of others. These moral reactions are intuitive and seem to occur automatically without any cognitive rationalizations.

Moral thinking parallels results from studies in social cognition (see chapter 4). As you might remember some cognitive responses are automatic whereas others require complex cognition. For most people stem cell research requires conscious deliberation of the issues before coming to a moral judgment. Kohlberg (1976) demonstrated the stages of the moral development over time from the very ego-centeredness in young children to the broader moral perspective of parents that might focus on values like freedom and equality. The highest stage of moral development in Kohlberg’s theory take on a perspective independent of the morality of society. For example slavery was always wrong regardless of social convention since it proscribed individual choice and did harm.

Today moral judgments are made in the context of a changing modern society. We live in a world of increasing scientific progress and technology. It could be an ideal world where for the first time in history we are able to meet human needs for health and justice. How are we doing? The 21st century appears to be no improvement on the 20th as wars are riveting the planet, genocide remains, the AIDS epidemic continues unchecked, and human desperation accumulates. How is it that this state of affairs is possible when we have the means and knowledge to solve many of these problems? The remainder of this chapter will seek to outline the problems that emanate from competition, from issues arising from injustice, and what we have learned about cooperative solutions.

2. Competition and conflict morality
Envy and competition have roots in early human history, just read the story of Cain and Abel in the Bible. The struggle for survival touches on the fundamental conflict over power, status, and perceived scarce resources. Competition is responsible for the ingroup-outgroup distinction that comes so easy to humanity. At times competition becomes magnified because there are real differences in resources that separate people, and these limitations lead to prejudice and conflict (Dollard, 1938; Jackson, 1993; Sherif, 1966). The capitalist system has from time to time experienced cycles of expansion and contractions, thus creating dislocations in the economy for many people and greater competition over limited resources. The classic study mentioned earlier (see chapter 10) demonstrated scapegoating (Hovland and Sears, 1940), when they correlated the price of cotton in the southern Unites States with the number of lynchings of Blacks. Cotton was so basic to the Southern economy that whenever the price of cotton dropped, poor whites were laid off and many found easy scapegoats among poor blacks to blame for their misfortune. This historical study demonstrated the link between prejudice, discrimination, perceived competition, and violence. The later study by Sherif et al (1961) on competition in a boys’ camp emphasized the effect of ingroup cohesiveness and competition on behavior toward outgroups. Fortunately, by establishing superordinate goals for the competitors, the investigators were able to turn things around and create more inclusive attitudes and behavior. Competition can create conflict that turns totally innocent targets into scapegoats (Allport, 1954; Gemmill, 1989). The essence of scapegoating is the misdirection of anger toward powerless groups of people who are disliked, and visible in significant ways. The new reality in Eastern Europe after the collapse of Euro-communism did not produce more cooperation in the quest for superordinate goals of integration, but unleashed conflict as ethnic and national groups turned feelings of frustration and anger toward minority groups. We saw ethnic conflicts and hostility in the wars that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. These misplaced feelings of anger continue to dominate current thinking, and create scapegoats throughout the continent.

A new study (Fidler, 2007) ranked 121 countries according to their level of peace. Russia was ranked in the bottom five, and the United States ranked in the bottom 30 between Yemen and Iran. The study supported the contention that the number of armed conflicts has increased since the 1990s laying to rest any discussion of a peace dividend emerging from the changing circumstances in Eastern Europe. The U.S. ranking (number 96) was attributed to high military spending and the continued engagements in conflicts far beyond its border. The high prison population in the United States (that is the highest per capita in the world) also contributed to its poor showing. The countries ranked highest for peacefulness were Norway, New Zealand, Denmark, and Ireland. The Middle East not surprisingly produced the least peaceful rankings with Iraq followed by Sudan and Israel. The main variables contributing to peace within a nation were identified as the level of education, and the degree of regional integration. This study identified competition as the dominant morality in conflicts. The study however could not distinguish any common factor that could account for peacefulness toward other countries.

Competition and conflict occur at the interpersonal, intergroup, as well as at the international level. Adolescents commonly report several conflicts each day (Jensen-Campbell, & Graziano, 2000). Among married couples conflict is more likely than among people who know each other causally. Interdependence is an essential quality of conflict (McGonagle, Kessler, & Schilling, 1992). For married couples the fight is often about the use of resources, as well as a fair distribution of work and money (Fincham, 2003). Stress is likely to contribute to scapegoating activities in conflict situations (Bradbury, Rogge, & Lawrence, 2001). Since people are interdependent at several levels conflict may occur over a variety of issues. At the interpersonal level frustrating behaviors, violations of norms, and our beliefs about the personal intentions of the competitor are causes of conflict. At the intergroup level conflict is the result of real and imagined competition over resources, also an incentive for conflict at the international level. At the latter level, conflict may also be promoted by competing ideologies (communism versus capitalism; Muslim versus Christian), and differing histories and cultures. However, all these potential conflicts are centered on competition over perceived scarce resources (material or ideological), and a desire to be in control of the outcome.

2.1 Pursuing selfish versus the common interests
At the center of many conflicts is the contradiction between egoistic advantage and the interests of society. Most of the grievous problems afflicting the world today are a consequence of individual selfish short-term interests prevailing over long-term common welfare. Global warming for example is the result of small incremental individual actions over a long-term period of history. For too long we have disregarded the cumulative effects of the use of the automobile and electricity (the most shameless use of which is in the gambling capitol of the U.S.: Las Vegas, and similar venues), and the accumulating effects of other forms of pollution. The pursuance of our individual selfish interests comes at a great cost to our neighbors, our society, and, in time, the welfare of the world. More and more people recognize the truth that through globalization no country is an island and global warming will affect all.

We are more and more interconnected and developments in one part of the world inevitably affect outcomes far away (Wright, 2000). Despite globalization the international community remains a world of tension and conflict both between countries and within them (Hunter, 1991). Although birthrates have fallen in many countries they continue to remain stable or increase in countries that can least afford to feed additional mouths. China is the exception with their one-child policy even though they now have a population exceeding 1.3 billion. In many poor countries having additional children is seen as essential to survival in old age, but individual survival makes the collective life more burdensome. The Earth can only produce so much, yet we live in a finite world as if the resources are infinite. People’s behavior are dominated by the thinking that individual acts are separate from the collective welfare. Some people reason that taking the car instead of walking to the grocery store nearby, or using air conditioning in excess of comfort does not impact much on pollution. Meanwhile these small individual selfish acts are killing the Earth.

2.1.1 The prisoner’s dilemma, tit for tat, and commons games
The prisoners’ dilemma game is the most frequently used laboratory analogy used to research and understand the effects of competitive behavior (Dawes, 1991). The participant arrives at the laboratory and is shown into a cubicle and informed that another participant is close by in another cubicle. Each of the participants is required to make a basic decision either to cooperate, a decision from which both will benefit, or to “defect” (to compete). Choosing competition will benefit the participant if the second player decides to cooperate. However, if both players decide to “defect” then the payoff will be significantly smaller.

The name of the game comes from a story about two prisoners (Luce & Raiffa, 1957) who are jointly guilty of a crime. There is only enough evidence to convict both of a less significant offense. The prosecutor interviews each man individually explaining that if one man confesses to the crime the information will be used to convict the other prisoner who will be given the maximum sentence and he, the interviewee will be set free. If both confess they will each receive a moderate sentence. So there is an advantage to be gained for one side if one prisoner confesses, but the other does not. The confessing prisoner will go free; the other gets the maximum penalty. The problem becomes one of trying to figure out what the other prisoner will do. If he does not confess, but you do you will go free, definitely a desirable outcome. However, if you both decide to cooperate you will each get only a moderate sentence. Would you cooperate under these conditions, or would you hope the other prisoner will not talk to the prosecutor while you plan to nail him for the offense? Can you trust your fellow prisoner to do the right thing and not confess? If you both cooperate the strategy would produce a moderate sentence, and this may be the best payoff to be expected.

Decisions in dyads, small groups, and international relations seem to follow a similar pattern of prisoner’s dilemma games. Nobody wants to be taken advantage of, and therefore fall victim to the fundamental attribution error in ascribing the worst motives to the other side. There may be some advantage in keeping the world in a state of terror since we have at least not seen nuclear conflict since the end of World War 2. Nevertheless think of all the wealth utterly wasted, and the talents of scientists that could have been put to productive use. Think of the vicarious wars and hostility that continue because nations are trapped in prisoners’ dilemmas unable to trust the opponent. While deterrence may have worked with the threat of nuclear extermination, it had not worked for conventional warfare as more wars have been fought precisely during the times the world was most heavily armed (Sivard, 1991).

The “ideology” of a competitive society primes us to act selfishly. Prior to playing a prisoner’s dilemma game the experimenter flashed subliminally 22 words with a hostile connotation (hostile, unfriendly), and to another group a similar list of neutral words (looked, house). Did the game participants exposed to hostile words act differently from those with the neutral word exposure? The answer is yes, even though the exposure was subliminally and not registered consciously, 84 percent of the participants in the subliminally hostile condition “defected” and did not cooperate, compared to only 55 percent in the neutral condition (Neuberg, 1988). The attributions we make of the other party’s intent are what matter in the prisoners’ dilemma game. When we believe other people will act competitively we adopt a similar strategy right from the start.

Defining the situation as either competitive or not may determine game behavior prior to any interaction. Lieberman, Samuels, & Ross, (2002) told their participants that they were either playing a “Wall Street game” or a “community game”. The investigators wanted to know if merely labeling (framing) the game would be sufficient in producing differences in behavior. It did. Those playing the community game cooperated twice as much as did those playing “Wall Street”, and these initial differences persisted over the remaining rounds of the game. Evidently labeling the game “Wall Street” set in motion competitive schemas and expectations that contributed to competitiveness. The problem with the dilemma is that when a participant first gets locked into a competitive mode it is difficult to change to cooperation during the interaction. In other words competition begets competition, and once started continues for its duration (Kelley & Stahelski, 1970). Escalating competition in any arena is an irrational response since the competition lowers the outcome for all the participants.

Do these games have relevance to the international community and the arms race? The cold war required tremendous expenditures in the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. These expenditures could have been used for clothing, food and medicines that would have improved the standard of living of all people in each camp. However, the arms race was all about attributions of the intentions of the other side. Each step in the arms race required a matching response (Dawes, 1980).

As we know the real world involves more than two players. The Nuts game (Edney, 1979) was developed to see how people would behave when more than two players participated. Some have called the social dilemmas involving many players the “Commons” or “Social traps” (Hardin, 1968; Platt, 1973). There are many social dilemmas that require cooperation of multiple actors for maximal utility including migration, reduction of pollution, and reduction of greenhouse gasses. In all these crises millions of people seemingly contribute only an infinite small part to the problem that nevertheless accumulate and threatens the future of human kind. In the Nuts game several participants sit around a bowl containing ten metal nuts. The goal of the game is to accumulate as many nuts as possible. Each participant is free to take as many nuts as he wants. However, the catch is that every 10 seconds whatever nuts are left in the bowl are doubled. Would you leave nuts in the bowl and hope the other players do the same for the collective much larger long-term return? Apparently most people would not as 65 percent of the groups never got to the second round replacement having taken all the nuts on the first trial.

The so-called tit-for-tat game strategy was developed by Axelrod (1984). In a tournament that utilized 14 different strategies for the prisoner’s dilemma game the winning strategy was an effective tit-for-tat strategy. The strategy is simple in requiring the player to cooperate on the first round, and subsequently matching the decision of the other player on each following round. The opponent’s cooperation is rewarded immediately, while “defection” leads to an immediate competitive response. The Tit-for-tat strategy did not win every round of the game, but did produce the overall best results. Why? Because it invited cooperation and was not envious, as it produced the best long-term result even if in the short term the maximum was not obtained. Also, the player was not likely to be exploited since if the opponent chose a competitive response it would be met in kind. At the same time, the strategy immediately forgave the transgressor by rewarding the next cooperative move. As you can imagine the strategy was not difficult to learn as the players figured it out after playing the game for just a short time. After a few rounds the consequences of every move were clear, and the players would understand that individual as well group outcome would be maximal when choosing cooperative moves in the prisoners dilemma type game.

Could you apply this strategy to your interpersonal relationships, with siblings or friends? Could nations utilize a similar strategy with regard to disarmament? What about the placement of the so-called missile defense system the United States wanted initially to place in Poland and the Czech republic in 2007? It was interesting to observe that Russia tested a new ICBM with multiple warheads capable of defeating the missile defense system almost immediately. In the convoluted world of the arms race the nonzero sum games have usually been played out to exhaustion, but every so often we also see a tit-for-tat strategy. A cooperative response (in the eyes of the opponent) is met with a cooperative response, and a competitive response (such as missiles on the door-steps of Russia) results in escalation.

2.1.2 The fundamental attribution error and the world of ideological competition
We have observed how initial competition leads to more competitive responses in the laboratory. Do people behave in similar ways in the world today? If we examine the news of any given day we observe a world torn apart by ideological conflict, with opponents labeling each other as evil in absolute moralist terms. We have seen in other research how people possess ingroup bias, but the extremity of that bias in the real world cannot be underestimated. On the whole we perceive of our own group as good and virtuous, the reservoir of all that is morally right whereas the opponent is seen as evil or as possessing incomprehensible ideologies. The fundamental attribution error is in full play when opponents perceive each other as having hostile intent and as a threat to survival (Plous, 1985).

In applying the fundamental attribution error to opponents people overlook all that human beings have in common. Despite cultural differences human beings not only share nearly all of their genetic inheritance, but also many cultural values. The tiny differences exiting in genetic inheritance primarily concern physical appearance of little importance. The areas of ideological agreement are also vastly larger than those of disagreement if we examine issues objectively (Robinson, Keltner, & Ross, 1991). In a study on abortion the participants opposing each other were asked to indicate their abortion related beliefs. They also estimated the beliefs of members of the opposing side. This allowed participants to compare their perceptions with the actual beliefs of the opposing supporters. The fundamental attribution error was clearly displayed since opponents exaggerated differences, and overestimated the gap between each position. The two sides were more likely to see their opponents as extremists rather than to look for common ground. Faulty and misguided construal in social conflict makes it difficult or impossible to find common values and interests. Being raised in competitive societies we assume, prior to interaction, that opponents will automatically take a competitive strategy with long-term loss being certain, and catastrophe possible. We also employ the fundamental attribution error that makes it almost certain that we do not intend to find common ground (Robinson, Keltner, Ward, & Ross, 1995).

2.1.3 Solving the problems generated by individual selfishness against the common good
The problems of communication discovered in game theory and in research on the fundamental attribution error where opponents assume the worst possible motives, appear to be universal and not easily solved. Since these problems are ingrained in our psychological constructs we cannot rely on individual free will to solve problems with terrible destructive consequences. Societies have developed regulations and laws to counteract the selfish inclinations of human nature in order to ensure the common welfare. There are international regulations governing whale hunts, test ban treaties controlling weapons testing in space, and litter laws in the cities. All regulations and laws seek to counteract the perceived egoistic advantage gained at the expense of the collective. Are we doing enough? We would not have the crisis in global warming if previous efforts to control emissions had been successful. The insidious nature of these dilemmas is that the damage is done in such small incremental steps that few people notice it. Furthermore, there is a significant time lapse between the warnings of scientists and the response by politicians and still later by the general population. There are many ways that we could individually help promote the common good. For example we could each take small steps to help solve global warming by changing normal light bulbs for more efficient types. Still relative few have taken these obvious steps, and most people still behave to their individual advantage, even though they along with everyone else will suffer the consequences if global warming continues.

In chapter 11 we argued that the survival of the world depends on us making altruism more central to our culture. Most people adhere to the norm of social responsibility if they understand that a crisis is occurring. Reciprocity and equity in sharing the burdens of life are norms that could also be utilized in order to gain the public support for the necessary steps needed to put the planet back in balance. Most people will adhere to these norms when they see proper applications (Kerr, 1992). Even in non-zero sum games altruistic appeals to give up individual advantage for the common good have worked (Dawes (1980).

One area of research of interest to the common good is the complexity of thinking. Being able to see a problem from several perspectives is related to conflict resolution (Suedfeld & Tetlock, 1977; Tetlock, 1981, 1984). The research showed that complex social issues require the ability to assess the problem through what the investigators called integrative complexity. The ability to differentiate a problem in arriving at a judgment is fundamental to complex thinking. For example, abortion is not a simple issue except to those who hold extreme positions. When does life begin, when has a fetus developed consciousness, when is pain felt? Is it better to abort a child condemned to a lifetime of suffering or is all life sacred? What should be the role of the mother and the father in any abortion decision? You can probably think of many other related questions with regard to abortion. The second aspect of integrative complexity is the ability to integrate varying cognition. Integrative complexity refers to an individual’s ability to connect different facets of the issue.

Tetlock found that people who hold extreme opinions are less complex compared to those with more moderate opinions. Integrative complexity is also related to tolerance, and the ability to consider the opponent’s argument on issues. In examining the cold war Tetlock found evidence that complex rhetoric used during crises in international relations led to solutions or at least the aversion of nuclear catastrophe.

3. Competition morality: Stress and health psychology
Although health is a result of many complex factors there are important psychological components, especially the presence of stress that contribute to illness. An individualistic, narcissistic and competitive society creates stress for people in a variety of ways. People seek escape in a society that is nonrewarding in meeting the human need for solidarity. Victims of stress often find refuge in health endangering practices. Tobacco and drug abuse throughout the Western world are a manifestation of stress and alienation. In the United States as in other countries, these health-destroying practices have been complemented with an overeating crisis. The obesity epidemic is “gaining ground” on tobacco as a major source of ill health. People eat more and larger portions of frequently unhealthy food, which in turn contribute to heart disease, diabetes and other chronic disorders (Los Angeles Times, 2004). Obesity related deaths in the U.S. are now estimated at 400,000 a year, a significant increase over the past decades.

Few doubt today the link between stressful lives and illness (Taylor, 2003). Stress is experienced both physiologically and psychologically. The arousal caused by stress puts the body in a fight or flight mode, where the heart is working overtime and blood pressure increases. Psychologically, when stressed, your attention tends to be focused on the event causing the stress and to disregard all else in life. Such obsessive thinking keeps the stress constantly present (Holman & Silver, 1998). Over time stress wears the body down. It stands to reason that a body constantly armored for action will eventually bear the physiological consequences. Stress has been related to a variety of diseases including cancer and heart disease (Friedman & Rosenman, 1974; Selye, 1976).

Stress is a psychological construct because it starts at the level of perception. It is psychological because not all people react the same way to stressful events. For some people divorce is the end of the world as they know it, for others it is but a new beginning. We all interpret events in different ways depending on our psychological background and personal hardiness. Events are primarily stressful, because they are perceived as such (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Still when stress related diseases reach epidemic proportions we must assume that society contributes as well. In competitive societies there is much that threatens people or is perceived harmful while there are few effective coping strategies.

In the portfolio list of stressful events the most unpleasant are those that have no immediate solution. These events are often unpredictable, and are not easily solvable (Bandura, Cioffi, Taylor, & Broullard, 1988). When some situation is uncontrollable or unpredictable it is difficult to develop adequate coping strategies. How do we deal with a spouse that “flies off the handle’ at the slightest of provocations? How can the international community effectively cope with the threat of “rogue” nations when their responses are often unpredictable? At times a situation is not only unpredictable, but also ambiguous (Billings & Moos, 1984). You may find yourself wondering about the message conveyed in the aftermath of a conversation with your boss. Was he approving of your work, or were his comments meant as a warning to step up the pace. Any situation that leads to a lower sense of control is experienced as stressful. European and American workers have faced many difficult changes as a result of globalization. Entire industries are no more, and workers have had to train for new, lower paying and insecure jobs. But there is still a McDonalds around the corner in the Western world with cheap, calorie rich food to divert attention for a short time.

3.1 Stress and culture
We respond to stress in the context of social relationships and culture. Therefore, to counteract stress, relationships and society must be involved (Tucker & Mueller, 2000). We have repeatedly referred to the differences between interdependent and independent societies in this book. In independent societies appeals to adopt better health habits frequently focus the individual changes that are needed. However, more and more we are learning that social support is important in coping with stress related health harming habits even in Western countries. The various self-help groups discussed in the previous chapter 11 are all based on the efficacy of social support. Weight loss is more successful in a group situation than when tried individually for many complex reasons (Brownell, Stunkard, & McKeon, 1985). Involving spouses and children in coping with stress related health-habits is useful. People are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors when they feel they have support from intimate others (Catania, Coates, Stall, Bye, Kegeles, & Capell, 1991).

In interdependent cultures the social network is of even greater importance in establishing healthy lifestyle habits. For example smoking cessation depends greatly on supportive social networks among Hispanic smokers (Marin, Marin, Otero-Sabogal, Sabogal, & Perez-Stable, 1989). Moreover, the fear of losing social support may lead HIV victims to withhold crucial information about their infection, and as a result ironically they will not get the support they need (Mason, Marks, Simoni, Ruiz, & Richardson, 1995). In interdependent cultures successful appeals for healthier lifestyles are more effectively directed toward the social network. In individualistic cultures appeals might be effective if based on already accepted norms of social responsibility to live healthy lifestyles.

3.2 Health and lifestyles
Health is the outcome of the complex interactions of many factors including genetic predispositions to various illnesses, environmental exposures, social support for a healthy life style, and stress. Good health is at least partly determined by the life styles we chose and actively pursue (Kaplan, 2000). If taken seriously healthy lifestyles can save a great deal of misery and expenses that come with chronic illness. A detrimental lifestyle is thought to contribute to all major categories of ill health in the United States and probably in most of the world. Cancer could be reduced significantly, probably by 25-30 percent, if people would quit smoking (American Cancer Society, 1989). Diet is clearly related to heart disease and diabetes, while drunk driving causes highway fatalities. Overeating and drunk driving are life style choices with short and long-term consequences. In a classic study on health behaviors the investigators identified seven important health habits including sleeping proper hours, not smoking, eating breakfast, no more than one or two alcoholic drinks per day, and keeping the weight within 10 percent of the ideal weight. The study was based on interviews with 6,000 people living in California. The participants were asked how many of these health behaviors they practiced, the illnesses they suffered from, and their energy levels. The results showed that the more health habits the respondents practiced the better their health, and the higher their experienced energy levels. We have a choice in our lifestyles, and these in turn have significant effects on our health and well-being.

3.3 Attitudes toward health and consequences
Do beliefs and attitudes about health matter in the pursuit of good health? Researchers have identified several beliefs effective in moderating health related behaviors (Bandura, 1986; Weinstein, 1993). General health values such as an interest in well-being, and the belief that the individual is personally vulnerable to illness are among important beliefs. Also significant are ideas of self-efficacy; i.e., that the individual can respond effectively to the health risk believing that the response will remove the threat. These beliefs are related to a variety of health related behaviors including the reduction or elimination of smoking, risky sexual behavior, and obesity (Taylor, 2003). People are constantly reminded of their failure in reducing obesity. Each new reduction program promotes the idea that the product will enable the client to become more effective. If a person does not possess self-efficacy and believe it possible to respond effectively to health threats he/she has in effect learned helplessness. Self-efficacy is also important in quitting smoking (Borland, Owen, Hill, & Schofield, 1991; Sheeran, Conner, & Norman, 2001). When people believe they can modify a particular behavior half the battle is won.

Impulsiveness plays a role in some health threatening behaviors. Many risky behaviors occur spontaneously as a result of particular circumstances. Unprotected sex is typically unplanned behavior, and drug or alcohol abuse usually starts with peer seduction, and only gradually turns into a problem (MacDonald, Zanna, & Fong, 1996). Young people often do not see the relevance of health related behaviors since youth foster illusions of invulnerability. Another problem related to health is relative economic affluence or poverty. A woman might believe a mammogram is helpful in detecting breast cancer. In most European countries access to this procedure is free, but not in the U.S. If a woman there does not have the means she will not have access to this life saving procedure. Generally speaking low-income minorities typically have poorer health, and are likely to experience more stress. Since income disparity is widening in many parts of the world economic differences may contribute even more to poor health in the future (McCloud & Kessler, 1990).

Health education is an important vehicle to inform and empower people to change health related attitudes and behaviors. The average viewer of television is often confronted with public service messages on health related practices. Research indicates that some of these messages are effective in changing attitudes and behavior (Atkin, 1979). At the same time products that encourage ill health including tobacco and alcohol advertisements that still dominate billboards and media in many parts of the world. Although now controlled in the United States to some degree, the use of these products by popular media personalities in movies or on television undo much of the education on the risks of these products.

3.4 Stress, Social support and illness
Competition and the struggle for survival produce stress with negative consequences for health. Typically the outcomes are not immediate, but stress provides the platform from which illness eventually emerges (Taylor, 2003). Once the body is armored in response to stress the bodily reactions often become chronic. Environmental conditions such as overcrowding contribute to feelings of stress, and inhibit prosocial behaviors (Taylor, Repetti, & Seeman, 1997). Many other situations are considered stressful including major life events like changing jobs or majors in University, or the loss of loved ones. Some of these events are existential to life, meaning that all people in the world have similar experiences. However, cultures differ in the amount of social support extended. The same event may be experienced as more stressful in a competitive independent culture when compared to an interdependent culture where individuals have extensive networks of social support. In modern competitive life people fight for space everywhere. Traffic is a daily stressor for many people in the world, as are continuous conflict with others (Bolger, DeLongis, Kessler, & Schilling, 1989). These daily problems have accumulating effects over time that contribute to illness (Kohn, Lafreniere, & Gurevich, 1991).

The competitive nature of many societies not only produces income disparity, but also has diverging health consequences. The relationship between lower economic class and health is well documented (Taylor et al, 1997). Our social environment including the presence or lack of resources determine the levels of stress experienced, and the general state of a person’s health. People living deprived lives have less knowledge about health, and fewer economic and social resources to help produce long and healthy lives. In competitive societies it is hard to escape the conclusion that the higher standard of living of some is bought at the expense of poorer health for the many. The social support experienced in more cooperative societies can be crucial to well being (Sarason, Sarason, & Gurung, 1997). Expressions of emotional concern can be life affirming, and reduce the effect of stress. The expression of feelings of liking and love may be crucial in dealing with the effects of an unrewarding society or life. Supportive relatives and friends provide the resources and information that reduce stress in difficult times (Broman, 1993).

The efficacy of social support has been demonstrated in numerous studies (Turner-Cob, Sephton, Koopman, Blake-Mortimer, & Spiegel, 2000). The beneficial effects include the speed by which people recover from illness, the reduction of physiological reactions to stress, and a more effective functioning in the face of chronic diseases (Taylor & Aspinwall, 1990). To trade the social support of a cooperative society for higher standards of material living is a high price to pay in the developing world (Bolger, Zuckerman, & Kessler, 2000).

3.5 Managing and coping with the effects of stress
Individual differences determine to a large extent success in coping with stress. Coping with stress includes efforts to reduce physiological arousal produced by stress using relaxation exercises such as muscle relaxation, meditation and deep breathing (English & Baker, 1983). It is interesting that many cultures have developed different methods for reducing the physiological consequences of stress including various forms of massage practiced today in many parts of the world. Taking a break from the daily grind can be very helpful in reducing physiological stress responses and might prevent these reactions from becoming chronic (Scheufele, 2000).

Coping strategies are made up from many sources in the life of the individual. Personal attributes and external resources including having sufficient money and social support determine the effectiveness of an individual’s coping style. Coping styles vary along several dimensions. Some individuals cope with stress by expressing hostility. A hostile coping style is harmful to the health of the individual and is related to coronary heart disease. People who express suspiciousness, anger, and resentment toward others often develop life threatening coronary complaints (Williams & Barefoot, 1988; Helmers, Krantz, Merz, Klein, Kop, & Gottdiener, 1995). Hostile individuals develop high blood pressure, and rapid heart rates that contribute to the disease over the long run, and lengthen the recovery time the body experiences from stressful events. Since coronary heart disease is a major cause of death in developed nations the relationship of hostility to this disease is important knowledge for the individual and his support system.

Some people seek to avoid situations that cause stress, and others will confront any stressor directly and take action. Different coping styles suggest complex outcomes. Those who avoid stress may cope better in the short run, but are not effective in dealing with persistent stress or threat. People who seek to avoid stress do not develop coping strategies dealing with future problems, since their current response is to not think about it. Eventually, those who cope by avoidance may live in a poor state of health (Smith, Ruiz, & Uchino, 2000). Those who face up to stress on the other hand may be affected negatively in the short run, since coping by confrontation involves some anxiety, but in the long run confrontation is more beneficial (Holahan & Moos, 1987).

We all have different personalities that relate to coping efficacy. Some people posses a high degree of internal optimism, and believe that life will essentially have good outcomes. This dispositional optimism affects the construal of stressful situations that is probably inculcated by comforting mother’s advice that “all is right”. People who are optimistic are also more likely to take direct action when faced with a stressor, and have fewer negative effects from stressful events (Chang, 1998; Segerstrom, Taylor, Kemeny, & Fahey, 1998). In recent years investigators have examined the relationship between stress and attitudes that are described as “hardiness” (Kobasa, 1997). Hardiness is associated with attitudes such as an internal sense of control, positive feelings of commitment, and a willingness to respond to challenges. When these attitudes are internalized they provide some protection from stress, making it more likely that the individual will cope successfully (Soderstrom, Dolbier, Leiferman, & Steinhardt, 2000). As we might guess a personality trait opposite to hardiness is neuroticism. Individuals who are neurotic are more likely to construe events as stressful, and react in ways that produce more symptoms. Lower levels of social support may account for some of the stress experienced by neurotics since most people find it unrewarding to be in the presence of defensive personalities (Gunthert, Armeli, & Cohen, 1999).

4. Justice morality
The disparity between the wages of workers and salaried employees and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of companies is increasing. The average CEO now makes a thousand times the salary of the worker. In general three types of justice are discussed in the literature. If the very rich would pay back the money they had unfairly accumulated we are describing restorative justice. Distributive justice refers to whether the employees have received their fair share of the goods distributed. Finally, procedural justice occurs when the reward system is considered trustworthy and produces outcomes in a legitimate fashion. Procedural justice include much research on legal processes involved in correctly identifying the guilty party in court proceedings, and creating unbiased judgments that encourage confidence in the law.

4.1 A just world and restorative justice
We know from chapter 9 that beliefs in a just world justify prejudice. However, the just world concept is a very significant belief and motivator in many societies, the belief the life produces expressed a match between people’s behavior and their outcomes. As noted, this desire for justice can and has been misused to keep the poor in their place, since the just world ideology proclaims that we get what we deserve. Injustice and the randomness by which fortune is handed out to people challenges these deeply held beliefs (Furnham, 1993; Lerner, 1980). However, the belief in a just world remains a motivator. When people become aware of injustice in treatment they seek to restore the imbalance (Hafer & Olson, 1993; Walster, Walster, & Berscheid, 1978). For example if people feel they are paid too much they respond by working harder trying to restore justice in compensation (Tyler & Smith, 1998). The simple lesson for companies worried about worker productivity is to pay the workers more than they deserve, then the workers then will respond by producing more, or is that a naïve thought? After all there exists a Dutch saying “as long as my boss claims that I earn much, I pretend to work hard”.

We can also restore justice by changing our minds about the victims of injustice. Victims of misfortune such as rape victims are often accused of being responsible for their own victimization. Likewise mentally sick people are perceived by many to be responsible for their illness, even though many mentally ill categories can be attributed to problems in brain function or the environment over which the patients have no control (Hinshaw & Cicchetti, 2000). Likewise many wealthy people defend the status quo by justifying existing differences in wealth as deserved by family inheritance, or as determined by the naturally determined evolution of talent (Jost, Banaji, & Nosek, 2004). Society through fashion magazines, and the yellow press attribute social status to those who are rich, famous or infamous. The gossip magazines are endlessly obsessed about the lives of movie stars or other guru’s, describing their lives in lurid detail and in ways that are supposed to convince the reader that these personalities are to be admired. If a person is wealthy it is common to believe that he/she is hardworking and intelligent. Ordinary members of society are often influenced by status ideology that favors the rich and famous and in the process accepting personal wealth as natural outcome of a just world. Sadly, people who work for a living have least cause to accept status ideology since admiration of the rich and famous justifies exploitation (Glick & Fiske, 2001; Jost, Pelham, Carvallo, 2002). Meritocracy under capitalism is the modern form of aristocracy that assumes that people get what they deserve, when in fact a host of factors unrelated to individual merit (e.g. inheritance) is responsible for good fortune.

From the perspective of restorative justice we can also set the situation right by punishing the offender. The Bible and other ancient texts offer examples of “an eye for an eye” retribution that still is with us today. Retribution justice calls for the same treatment to be applied to the offender as that suffered by the victim. So the arrogant rich should have the opportunity to live like the poor just to make life fair! Punishment is also used to deter future crimes. Isolating the offender in prison, or to effect the rehabilitation of criminals, serve the goal of protecting society. In society there is much debate today about whether criminal behavior should be punished in the search for retribution justice, or if the criminal should be rehabilitated to prevent offenses in the future (Carlsmith, Darley, Robinson, 2002). When people feel the emotions of fear or anger from the criminal behavior of others they are more likely to favor retribution. In retribution the responsibility for the criminal act is attributed to the offender. However, when the attribution is situational, people are more likely to call for punishment that leads to rehabilitation (Harmon-Jones, Sigelman, Bohlig, & Harmon-Jones, 2003).

4.2 Equity theory and distributive justice
Do we get what we deserve, is there a balance between what we give and get, in other words do our inputs match our outcomes? These questions are discussed by equity theory (Walster, Walster, & Berscheid, 1978). For many people justice require a balance between what we get and what we give. If one person is giving all to a relationship and our partner is not, the inequity will eventually produce feelings of unfairness, and efforts will be made to restore balance by demanding more from our partner or by ending the relationship. In loving relationships we expect to get as we give, in other words we expect distributive justice.

As mentioned above employees in capitalist economies have many reasons for feeling that distributive justice is violated. In 1998 the average salary of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was one thousand times higher than the average employee in the United States. The disparity is increasing with the result that in 1999 the 13,000 richest families in the U.S. exceeded the wealth of the 20 million poorest families (Krugman, 2002; Phillips, 2002). The disparity in wealth is increasing all over the developed and developing world, and is a cause of resentment, feelings of unfairness, and conflicts.

The unfairness in access to resources has many significant health and social consequences. Those in the lower end of the socioeconomic scale are exposed to more toxic hazards, do not get adequate health care, and have a poor start in life as manifested by low birth weight. Not surprisingly the poor are not only robbed of the quality of life, but also have shorter life spans (Adler, Boyce, Chesney, Cohen, Folkman, & Kahn, 1994; Yu & Williams, 1999). In a perceived scarce resource world it should not surprise us that people who are well of look after themselves, and their kinship relations. For people who are aware of distributive injustice the unfairness strikes deep, and fuels wars and regional conflicts. In Africa people are often robbed of the resources from the land on which they live as for example oil or diamonds are removed by foreign companies or central governments with little or no benefit to the local people who should by right own these resources.

4.3 Slave mentality and distributive justice
People often feel that their contributions are inadequately compensated. In laboratory studies, self-interests prevail. Generally people feel that their own behavior is governed by fairness, and participants in studies often feel they were fairer toward others when compared to the other participants. For example married partners in one study felt that they each contributed more than their fair share to the functioning of the household (Ross & Sicoly, 1979). Other studies have produced similar results. Other people are seen as unfair, whereas people see themselves as fair and balanced. The construal of what is fair seems to proceed from ego centered cognition and self-interests (Messick, Bloom, Boldizar, & Samuelson, 1985). However, these studies generally focus on middle class respondents who are not deprived in any absolute sense. In other words, the comparison process for fairness is between relative equals in resources, and not between different socioeconomic classes.

How do deprived people compare themselves when evaluating distributive justice? Some researchers have found that those who live in low socio-economic environments express similar life satisfaction as those who live in wealthy circumstances (Myers, 2000). Absolute wealth discrepancies do not appear a cause for life dissatisfaction. One reason is that people compare for fairness of outcomes within their own socioeconomic group. It is when people fall behind within their own group that distributive justice motivates behavior to restore justice. This fact also makes it easier to obfuscate the real injustice that occurs between socioeconomic classes.

Relative deprivation is the key to distributive injustice. How deprived a person feels when comparing himself to others from his neighborhood, in his profession, or socioeconomic class is the key to understanding the motivation of distributive injustice (Walker & Pettigrew, 1984). Individuals who display wealth conspicuously are not used for comparisons, as they are not seen as relevant to the outcomes of those who are struggling. For many people conspicuous display of wealth is justified since we live in a “just world”. God or other just causes must be responsible for these wealth discrepancies. Those who do not adapt this slave mentality often come from the more advantaged members of the deprived group. The relative better of members of deprived groups are the ones who come in contact with wealthier people and can engage in cross-class social comparison (Guerin & Epps, 1975). When social reality allows people to aspire to a better life, the more advantaged in society are used for comparison, and distributive justice takes on higher standards.

Distributive justice is based on self-interests. Within the relevant comparison group there is always a bias toward self-interest and self-presentation. We feel that we contribute more than others in the work place. Most of us feel also that we are pulling more than our fair share in family life, or among friends. In choosing a fair payout for our efforts we typically pay ourselves more than other participants (Messick & Sentis, 1979). So whether at the top of the socioeconomic pyramid or at the bottom distributive justice is not easily found and is constantly revised.

Equity justice requires that rewards correspond directly to the contributions made in a relationship. Equal pay for equal work has long been the demand of women in various countries of the world. There may be differences between contributions made so equity demands correspondence between the work performed and the compensation received. For example, if you are creating 75 percent of the inventions for the company then equity demands that you receive 75 percent of the profits.

The equity principle favors people who are already winners in society since it would allow them to retain more of their wealth. The flat tax proposal where everyone pays the same percentage is based on the equity principle. If the rich and poor both pay 10 percent of their income in tax obviously the rich will retain more of their wealth, since 10 percent will be a relatively small share for those who have plenty, but a real sacrifice for those already deprived. In fact from the perspective of self-interests rich people prefer equity, as do the more materialistic and conservative people (Cook & Hegtvedt, 1986; Rasinski, 1987).

Socialism noted the essential unfairness of the equity principle and promoted a new society based on equality. To give according to ability and to receive an equal share of the social resources is the basic theme of socialist thinking. Socialist ideology projected a future vision where selfishness would not be a motivator in a society of plenty. Socialism means that each person contributes what he can and receives from society what he needs. The present world is far from equal in the sharing of resources, a characteristic of exchanges more likely found in friendships. Among friends resources are often shared equally. If a partner finds gold in a mutually owned mine equality demands that the find is shared in equal parts. The United States and many other countries are further away from the principle of equality than in any previous period in history (Phillips, 2000).

In families the principle of need determines distribution of resources (Tyler & Smith, 1998). Children are of course still egoistic and would demand a disproportionate share as “fair”, but adults set the tone and make decisions based on what children need to develop and grow to their full potential. If a child is ill he is likely to receive a larger share of resources in defense of his life and health. Many developing societies promote having many children with equity in mind, so when children grow up they could give back and take care of their parents. In the parents’ relationship with their children need predominates, and there is always some inequality in need. The need imperative in families can also be thought of as an equality principle as parents seek to compensate for the misfortune and unequal environments of their children. If a child is ill he may receive a disproportionate share of the parents income, which is an attempt by parents to compensate for the unfairness of illness. In intimate relationships we often put our own welfare second to the beloved child or spouse. In more distant relations such as the workplace, we expect equity.

4.4 Fair and transparent procedure
The term “teacher’s pet” is used to describe children who are liked by their teachers and gain unfair advantage in grades and promotion not based on merit. Likewise in the workplace the boss may be favorably biased toward a fellow worker who is unfairly given larger pay raises and early promotions. If procedures for rewards or punishment are not transparent the distribution outcome will be perceived by many to be unfair and unacceptable. According to Tyler (1994) procedural justice is a function of the manifest neutrality of the judge. At sporting events we expect judges to be neutral and to have no ego invested in the outcome. That is why judges are often chosen from neutral countries at international sporting events.

The judging system must be seen as having integrity, so participants can trust the system. The election of president Bush in the first round in 2000 was determined by a handful of disputed votes in Florida, eventually settled by the supreme court in a split partisan vote that left the election illegal in the minds of many if not most Americans. Today the average American has little respect for the integrity of the legislative or executive branches of government.

Another component of procedural justice is the feeling of the participant that he has been treated with respect. Did Gore, the loser in the election, feel that those who decided the outcome treated him with respect? Actual criminals are more likely to accept the punishment received in the courtroom if they are treated with respect. For example, in sentencing serial killer Bundy to death – the death penalty is still carried out in many states in the USA – the judge said he had no personal animosity, and given different circumstances could have seen Bundy being an effective lawyer, and finally wished him “good luck”. It is of course a characteristic of psychopaths that they are often likeable, but the judge still manifested the respect that is essential in accepting judgments. In studies about promotions in the workplace, and criminals being judged by the justice system, the results showed that the actual workplace reward (promotions or pay increases), or prison sentence meted out did not correlate with the individuals’ sense of procedural justice. What was of greatest importance was whether the authority figure was seen as neutral, had integrity, and treated the individual with respect (Brockner & Weisenfeld, 1994). Admittedly that can cause a problem for justice since a slick judge who expresses a liking for the defendant or boss for a worker can get away with more injustice than the leader who is actually fair, but does not respect the individual.

4.5 Procedural justice and the law
The desire to obey the law is stronger when the procedure is seen as fair and just. If the procedures are considered fair people are also more likely to comply with the law (Tyler, 1990). It is not the fear of punishment that determines compliance, but the transparency and fairness of the procedures (Blader & Tyler, 2003; Wenzel, 2000). People place importance on procedural justice as can be observed in the study by Tyler (1990). Imagine you have been given a ticket for ignoring a traffic sign and go to court. You feel the fine is unfair since your view of the traffic sign was obscured. Two possibilities now occur. The first is a dismissal of the fine by the judge, who agrees with your objection. The second possibility is that the judge carefully listens to your complaint, examines all the pertinent facts, and then rules against you on account of the fact that the traffic sign although obscured was still visible and should have been obeyed. What outcome do you think people prefer? Hands down you would think dismissal of the fine would be most appealing? However, in this study participants preferred the second option because they felt that they had had their say in court, and had been treated with respect. The ideal society would require no coercion, as people would obey the law because it is fair and just and it is the right thing to do. Since we do not live in an ideal society, coercion must be part of the picture. Nevertheless the law should at least not make any mistakes when it comes to judgment of innocence or guilt. Perhaps the most revolting feelings of unfairness occur when an innocent man is convicted of a crime that he did not commit or when a law is enforced that did not arise from social consensus.

5. Finding the truth: Eyewitness testimony and jury group processes
Juries are selected to decide the guilt or innocence of the accused and have been part of, among others, the British and American justice systems for hundreds of years. The legal system places great value on eyewitness testimony. After all what is better evidence than someone present when the crime was committed? This would be true if eyewitnesses could accurately recall the events, and had no other motives for their testimony. Unfortunately, as we shall see, disinterested and accurate recall is infrequent, and justice often illusive.

5.1 Influence of eyewitness testimony
Law enforcement and jurors rely heavily on eyewitness testimony to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. The evidence shows that jurors tend to overestimate the accuracy of eyewitnesses. Social psychological research has demonstrated many sources of eyewitness error and subsequent miscarriage of justice (Ellsworth & Mauro, 1998; Wells & Olson, 2003). In one experiment the investigators asked participants to rate their confidence in eyewitnesses who had been videotaped identifying a confederate thief. The participants consistently overestimated the accuracy of the eyewitness testimonies even when conditions were too poor for identification (Lindsay, Wells, & Rumple, 1981; Lindsay, & Wells, 1985).

The confidence in eyewitness testimony is misplaced. The most frequent reason for miscarriage of justice is misleading eyewitness testimony (Brandon, & Davies, 1973; Wells, Wright, & Bradfield, 1999). Wells and Bradfield (1998) reviewed 40 cases in which DNA evidence was obtained after the conviction. The results indicated that the accused were innocent in 36 of the cases. In these miscarriages of justice an eyewitness had mistakenly identified the accused as responsible for the crime. From this set of cases five convicts were subsequently sentenced to death and placed on death row before they were later found innocent. The situation was so critical that eventually the Illinois governor pardoned all prisoners on death row in his state, since he was no longer confident in the evidence that placed them there. One may wonder how many innocent prisoners have been executed throughout history.

5.1.1 Memory and false identification
Memory plays a central role in identifying a criminal offender. An accurate memory of events depends on our ability to acquire, store, and retrieve the appropriate information. We now know that this is not a simple process but one fraught with many opportunities for error and hence injustice. Typically criminal acts occur unexpectedly, and research supports the contention that most people do not acquire reliable memories from sudden and unexpected events. The classical study by Munsterberg (1908) demonstrated the inability of most participants to accurately observe a staged event at a scientific meeting. A confederate acting in a clown costume suddenly appeared in the room followed by a man with a revolver. They created a commotion grappling with each other, falling to the ground, and firing one shot. The participants were later asked to write down exactly what had happened. The majority of those present omitted significant parts, half of them wrote mistakenly about the events, or made other errors. Even among a group of educated and intelligent scientists eyewitness observation was not reliable.

In another study (Tolestrup, Turtle, Yuille, 1994) the investigators examined police records of criminal acts to which an accused had confessed. They compared the physical descriptions of the eyewitnesses to the actual physical features of the criminal who had confessed. The victims of the crime remembered the suspect’s hair color 38 percent of the time, and only 48 percent of the bystanders remembered it correctly. Combining the bystander and victims identification the suspect was identified correctly 48 percent of the time. Not a statistic that should put confidence in the accuracy of crime related memory.

There are many factors that inhibit correct identification. In preventing proper identification the following factors play a role: the speed with which the event often occurs, the fright created in the victim that motivates a narrowing of focus, and poor viewing conditions when for example crimes occur at night time, all obfuscate accurate memory. Furthermore, if the criminal is carrying a weapon the victim is focusing on that and not on his facial features as is demonstrated in various studies (Loftus, Loftus, & Messo, 1987; Shaw & Skolnick, 1999). There are many stereotypes in society related to criminal behavior, and people’s expectations may also create false identification. Research shows that observers able to better identify individual characteristics within their own race, but employ stereotypes in identifying individuals of other races (Levin, 2000; Meisnner & Brigham, 2001b). We pay more attention to those with whom we interact with on a daily basis, and are therefore more likely to observe individual features in same race persons. This stereotypic effect can also be demonstrated for age, as college students and middle age respondents are better able to distinguish faces within their own age range. So we see there are memory problems right at the beginning of acquisition.

If there is a time interval between the event and identification the memory of the event must be stored in some form. This creates additional problems. Most people do not possess photographic memories, and memories fade or are otherwise altered over time. What happens in the interval between the event and the testimony matters greatly. Research on reconstructive memory shows that subsequent information may distort and change the memory (Loftus & Hoffman, 1989; McDonald & Hirt, 1997; Schacter, 1996). In a classic study (Loftus, Miller, & Burns, 1978) the investigators showed 30 slides depicting an automobile accident. One slide varied in the two conditions. Some participants saw the car in front of a stop sign whereas others respondents saw the same vehicle stopped at a yield sign. After observing the slides of the accident the participants were asked a series of questions. The significant question was about their observation of the traffic sign. In one condition the participants were asked if they had observed another car pass while the car was in front of the stop sign. In the second version the participants were asked if the other car passed while the subject car had stopped at the yield sign. For half of the sample the sign was correctly identified, the other half was provided with incorrect information. Subsequently all the participants were shown two pictures, one with the stop sign the other with the yield sign and were asked which picture they had originally viewed among the thirty slides. Remember for half of the subjects the sign was misidentified. For those who were given correct information 25 percent still misidentified the slide. However, for participants given the misleading question 59 percent misidentified. This study showed that even subtle information can alter the memory of what had recently occurred.

In a court of law prosecutors can ask misleading questions altering what is stored in memory. Misleading questions create a problem in source monitoring; i.e. the misleading inquiry may intervene with the memories (Mitchell, Johnson, Mather, 2003). People get mixed up as to what they saw or heard. They have seen yield and stop signs before, and mistakenly attribute these previous memories to what they observed in the experiment. Eyewitnesses in criminal court may have observed some event and truthfully report what they have seen, while the source of the memory is in fact not the criminal happening. Competing memories are stored, and some may be tagged to the wrong event, yet the witness can most sincerely believe he/she is telling the truth.

The most common cause of judicial error and wrongful convictions is derived from misidentification during lineups of the suspect. The victim or observer is required to identify the criminal from a lineup of similar looking individuals. Often people choose not the actual offender, but someone who looks similar, and we have already seen that identifying individual features is difficult across races since members of another race look similar to the observer (Ellsworth & Mauro, 1998; Wells, Small, Penrod, Malpass, Fulero, & Brimacombe, 1998). There are of course practical steps to minimize misidentification. The witness should be told that the suspect may or may not be in the lineup, and the person presenting the lineup should not know the identity of the suspect to avoid giving subtle, but powerful identifying hints to the witness. The participants in the lineup should look similar to the suspect to minimize identification based on similarity. When photographs are used they should be presented sequentially to avoid the comparison process where the witness again uses similarity to falsely identity. Finally, the more information presented to the eyewitness the more accurate the identification, so the witness should be presented with both photographs and voice recordings of the suspect (Steblay, Dysart, Fulero, & Lindsay, 2001; Melara, De Witt-Rickards, & O’Brien, 1989). Unfortunately, the media often confound memory further by introducing new material that is now assumed by the eyewitness to be part of the original memory leading to identification.

5.1.2 DNA and eyewitness accuracy
The new science of DNA identification has assisted law enforcement in overcoming misidentifications. Eyewitnesses of murder and rape have often wrongly identified suspects resulting in unjust penalties including lifelong imprisonment and death. Ancient societies knew about the unreliability of eyewitness testimony, and some countries therefore required more than one witness for conviction. The seductive effect of eyewitness testimony for both judge and jury lies in the utterly sincere testimony of the eyewitness who truly believes they are identifying the right person, when in fact they are not. In many cases eyewitnesses are convinced of the correctness of their identification, and refuse to believe otherwise even when presented with scientific evidence to the contrary (Thompson, 2000). Fortunately, the science of DNA identification has now progressed to a point where if the perpetrator leaves any DNA sample the identification can be accurately decided. However, in many criminal cases the suspect leaves no scientific evidence and the courts still rely on eyewitness testimony for most convictions.

It is wise to remember that the certainty by which the eyewitness identifies the suspect is not a good indicator of reliability (Lindsay, Read, & Sharma, 1998; Wells, Olson, & Charman, 2002). There is only a weak relationship between certainty and accuracy in identification. What happens between identification and court testimony may influence the confidence of the witness. If the witness learns that others have identified the suspect confidence increases (Penrod & Cutler, 1999).

Intuition seems to be the best guide to accurate and honest identification. It is when the observer works on his memory that perception is confounded. The more thinking and comparison activities carried out by the witness, the less likely the testimony will prove accurate. Accurate eyewitnesses identify spontaneously, often when the picture of the perpetrator is suddenly visualized, and do not know how they recognized the defendant (Dunning & Stern, 1994). There is also some research that indicates that when we actually try to put the offenders’ image into words that this verbalization process interferes with accuracy (Meissner & Brigham, 2001; Schooler & Engstler-Schooler, 1990). The process of putting an image into words is difficult, and can interfere with and change the memory. Since criminals do usually not stand still for photographs police often have had to rely on sketches of the suspect based on eyewitness descriptions. This identification process is less than accurate given the evidence from these studies.

Some eyewitnesses have motives to wrongly identify a suspect. Perhaps it is a case of revenge for some previous slight or injury, or the eyewitness is motivated by bigotry and hatred. There may be many motives in criminal cases and they are not easily discerned. Research also shows that it not easy to determine when a person is lying. The ability to tell when a person is telling the truth is only slightly better than chance guessing (DePaulo, Stone, & Lassiter, 1985). Recent research has not increased confidence in our ability to detect lying (Bond & Atoum, 2000; Ekman, 2002). The ability to discern the truth is related to job experience in detecting when people lie in a given situation. Thus CIA agents are somewhat better at detecting lying, as are clinical psychologists. Law enforcement officers, who were not identified in the study as outstanding interrogators, on the other hand only correctly detected lying at chance level (Ekman, O’Sullivan, & Frank, 1999).

The guilty have an interest in deception, in convincing others that they are telling the truth when denying knowledge of the crime. Lie detectors have been employed in law enforcement for a long time and used to assess whether a person of interest is telling the truth. The lie detectors are based on the supposedly involuntary responses of the sympathic nervous system in response to stress or anxiety fed by guilty knowledge. Also called the polygraph the lie detector measures changes in breathing and heart rates in response to carefully crafted questions. One type uses a control question where law enforcement officers ask questions relevant to the offense. How many times did you murder the victim? The assumptions are that a directly relevant question will create anxiety and changes in the physiological measures. The second approach employs multiple-choice questions and relies on the idea that only the guilty party knows about the event, and should therefore respond with anxiety to the relevant truthful answer. Did you commit the murder by hanging, gun, drowning, or strangulation? Presumably the murderer would know which way he dispatched his victim and would therefore show greater reactions to the truthful response.

Polygraphs have been found wanting and are of limited utility. If they were accurate tools for detecting deceit, independent analysts looking at the same case should come to the same conclusion about the guilt or innocence of the accused. However, the administrators of lie detection machines often disagree among themselves in interpreting the results (Ellsworth & Mauro, 1998). Under the best conditions the polygraph will predict somewhat better than chance, but it is not perfect (Ben-Shakkar & Elaad, 2003). Ekman (2002) noted that the polygraph misidentifies some 10 to 15 percent of those who lie as truth tellers, and a like number of truth tellers are misidentified a liars. 20 to 30 percent misidentification is too high a number to decide capital or any criminal cases. In less serious cases misidentifying a person as a liar has also repercussions. Some companies now hire based on polygraph results, and we must recognize that those companies treat some 20 to 30 percent of applicants unjustly.

There is no simple measure that can reveal with a high degree of certainty whether a person is responding truthfully or not (Kleiner, 2002). Even though many investigators believed that the reliability of polygraphs could be improved via hypnosis the results do not lend support to this thinking. Rather, hypnosis increases the chance that people come to falsely believe they made observations when in fact they had no such experience. Although hypnosis may increase the confidence that people have in their memory, it is a confidence not justified by increased accuracy. Focusing on the detail of the event by means of cognitive interviewing has in some research resulted in more accuracy in detection (Holliday, 2003). However, others have found that it also increases invention, especially in younger children (Fisher, Brennan, & McCauley, 2001). In sum, there is no way to ensure justice by means of eyewitness testimony; there are just too many ways that errors can occur.

5.1.3 The false memory syndrome
Imagine you are a totally devoted father who has treated his children with care and respect. One day you find yourself arrested for child sexual abuse. Your daughter has used the services of a psychologist and in the process of counseling and with the support of the psychologist she suddenly remembered childhood sexual abuse long repressed and forgotten. This is naturally a traumatic event for your daughter, and for you as well since the violation is reported to the police. What if teachers in a nursery school were all accused of sexual abuse in the form of a conspiracy that included satanic worship? Initially the children did not remember these events, but the psychologists were helpful, and over time the children recovered their memories. The above cases of accusation have actually happened despite the total innocence of the parents and teachers. These innocent parties were forced to go through the torture of false accusation from their own children and students (Wright, 1994). The accuracy of recovered memories remains a divisive concept in psychology (McNally, 2003; Schooler & Eich, 2000).

The zeitgeist in psychology was influenced by sexual abuse in the 1980s, and some researchers claimed that it was common for women who were sexually abused as children to repress this anxiety producing memory, only to recover it at a safer and more remote time (Bass & Davis, 1994; Alpert, Brown, & Cutois, 1998). However, much research has now cast doubt on the accuracy of these claims (Loftus, 2003; Ornstein, Ceci, & Loftus, 1998; Schacter, 1996; Schooler, 1999). It should surprise no one who understands how human memory works that people can recall an event that never happened. If powerful authorities suggest in subtle or direct ways that something happened the victim might come to believe the event even though it never happened. Today this is called the false memory syndrome, and the real victims are the innocently accused parents and teachers (Kihlstrom, 1996; Loftus, 1993; Schooler & Eich, 2000). These false accusation cases from real life have been supported by the results of numerous laboratory studies that demonstrate that memories may be false, that sincere individuals may be manipulated into believing in their own victimization. There may be memories that have been repressed in the past and suddenly recovered, but these are rare, and cannot be the sole basis for judicial intervention.

5.2 Arriving at the truth: The jury process
The jury system where one is judged by a group of fellow citizens has a long history in English and American jurisprudence. Typically juries consist of a group of six to twelve citizens. They meet after hearing the evidence to render a judgment favoring either the defense or the prosecution. Since the jury is a group of people all the research that we have on group processes and social interaction is relevant to jury decisions. Juries consist of average human beings who are subject to the same cognitive limitations and prejudices found in the rest of society. Therefore arriving at the truth and rendering a just decision is a precarious process.

Can judges who are trained in law, and have experience in legal trials do a better job in deciding what is right? The judge is also a product of society and limited by his social cognition, his stereotypes, and motivations. Any legal system that wants justice must have checks and balances to overcome biased judgments by jury or judge. It is however, disquieting to know that judges disagree with juries 25 percent of the time (Kalven & Zeisel, 1966). So those who hear the same evidence can come to very different opinions of what is right and fair (Borgida & Fiske, 2008).

5.2.1 Pretrial publicity
Many legal cases are tried in the court of public opinion long before the actual trial. The media often report on the crimes committed and the defendants arrested prior to jury selection. Due to these press reports many potential jurors have made up their minds about the innocence or guilt of the defendants long before they hear any testimony at trial. Typically the information in the media about the defendants comes from law enforcement, not precisely unbiased sources. Research shows that the more people hear about the case from the media the more they tend to be biased against the defendant (Fulero, 2002; Kerr, 1995). Emotional publicity providing lurid details of criminal cases increases the likelihood the jurors will render guilty verdicts, as it arouses people’s emotions.

Some white color crimes in the United States have adversely affected tens of thousands of retirees, or those who were going to retire, and left the companies bankrupt. Most people can identify with the plight of the victims, as threats to economic security are very emotional in nature. Although jurors are warned not to be influenced by pretrial publicity it is doubtful that these admonitions can overcome negative pretrial information (Kramer, Kerr, & Carroll, 1990; Ogloff & Vidmar, 1994). We know from research that when jurors are told to disregard what they have heard before the trial such admonitions may in fact increase the possibility that the biased information will be used in the jury room (Fein, McCloskey, & Tomlinson, 1997). Information is often registered in the unconscious portions of the mind, but may nevertheless affect outcomes significantly. Even linking a person superficially to a criminal act in the media produces biased perceptions of that individual. We call this guilt by association, and even denial of such association may by itself produce negative biases (Wegner, Wenzlaff, Kerker, & Beattie, 1981). The best solution for rendering a fair judgment is to find jurors who have heard nothing about the case, but in today’s world of television, the Internet, and other media, that may prove impossible.

5.2.2 Group processes and jury deliberations
Jurors utilize the same cognitive processes as people making other types of decisions. They try to decide which account makes most sense, the defendant’s or the prosecutor’s case (Hastie & Pennington, 2000). Lawyers have two approaches in presenting their cases. They can present the case as a story where the evidence is presented in the sequence in which the criminal events occurred, trying to provide the jurors with the whole picture from the prosecutor’s or defendant’s perspective. In, the second approach, lawyers can present the case in witness order, using the sequence of witnesses in a way that is most convincing. Here we may remember the so-called primacy and recency effects. Is the information presented first most persuasive, or is it the information presented last (see chapter 8)?

These two strategies have been experimentally employed in simulated jury trials. The results strongly support the effectiveness of the story approach in persuading jurors of the case (Pennington & Hastie, 1988). When the prosecution used the story order of presentation and the defense employed the witness order 78 percent of the experimental jurors voted to convict the defendant. On the other hand if the prosecutor used the witness order and the defense the story approach, only 31 percent voted to convict. So the manner in which the prosecution and defense present their information makes a difference in whether a person is judged guilty or not. Does that strike you as being in conformity with justice morality? It would seem that the manner of presentation determines the verdict regardless of the guilt or innocence of the accused.

The most significant factor in predicting whether a jury will convict is the majority opinion on the initial vote in deliberation. This can easily be understood from studies on conformity. Most people in the minority do not have the fortitude to stand against a majority, and majority opinion usually carries the day as it convinces or wears down the minority with arguments. In a study on actual criminal trials the investigators found that in 97 percent of the cases the final outcome was identical to the initial majority opinion. Still other research suggests that having an initial minority sometimes convinces the majority to change their minds in the direction of the minority at least toward acceptance of a lower criminal charge. When a person is accused of first-degree murder but the minority believes it is a case of manslaughter juries will often find room for compromise. The first-degree murder charge may be downgraded by negotiation to guilty of second-degree murder, a charge with less severe penalties (Pennington & Hastie, 1990). The ability of minorities to sway the majority is why a jury of 12 persons is better than six, since the larger jury is more likely to have minority opinion present (Horowitz & Bordens, 2002).

6. Cooperation morality and reconciliation
Cooperation is a fundamental morality in all communities. From an evolutionary perspective people developed cooperative modes of interaction because these contributed to survival. People who learned to cooperate together also went hunting together, and shared harvests when times were tough. Treating others with compassion is part of our evolutionary heritage, and is also shared with various other species, particularly among the primates (de Wall, 1996). Chimpanzees in leadership roles share food with their group members, and seek to reduce conflict among lower status individuals. In scarce resource communities conflict is a constant factor of life. Primates have learned to avoid conflict, and to defuse aggression when it does occur. Grooming behavior and offering food among primates are all attempts to bring about more cooperation and avoid conflict (Keltner & Potegal, 1997).

The most basic norm of moral reasoning in humans is the reciprocity norm. Reciprocity supports both cooperative and competitive behavior. When you offer help to someone you expect the favor to be returned (Miller & Bersoff, 1994). Reciprocity is a basic moral obligation found in all societies, although it may have higher priority in interdependent cultures (Miller & Bersoff, 1994). Members of interdependent cultures are more likely to see reciprocity as a moral obligation, whereas those living in more independent cultures think of reciprocity as a choice.

6.1 Intergroup cooperation and contact
In chapter 9 we discussed from research on prejudice that showed that the mere contact between races and ethnic groups does not lead to improved cooperation. In the United States and in several European countries people of different ethnic background still live segregated lives often with hostility brewing under the surface of daily co-existence (Fasenfest, Booza, & Metzger, 2004). People with high levels prejudice avoid contact with target groups as it may confront their cherished prejudicial opinions (Herek & Capitanio, 1996). Interracial cooperation improved however, when the races had to cooperate in the military service during the Second World War (Stouffer, Suchman, DeVinney, Star, & Williams, 1949). Pettigrew (1997) found that those with more egalitarian contact among minorities in Europe also had less prejudice. It could on the other hand, also be argued that southern whites who displayed prejudice during slave times had the most contact and at the same time the highest degree of bigotry. Why? It is obviously not contact alone that matters, but the nature of the contact.

The improved attitudes that developed between black and white soldiers in integrated units during the Second World War occurred because they came to see themselves as part of a larger group that was inclusive of all races facing a common enemy. In order to develop cooperative interdependence between members of varying groups they must share common goals (Gaertner, Mann, Murrell, & Dovido, 1989; Sherif et al, 1961). When people depend on each other to reach superordinate and overriding goals they develop mutual dependence and cooperative attitudes. As Allport (1954) argued members of competitive groups must interact on the basis of equal status. Aronson and Gonzales (1988) also advanced the importance of the equal status idea in their study on cooperation using the jigsaw method in the classroom. When each student had equal responsibility in learning the material and teaching it to other group members the result was more cooperation across a variety of ethnic groups, improved self-esteem, and better academic performance (Johnson & Johnson, 2000). It is the nature of the contact that improves cooperation. Working together allows members of competing groups to form a new group identity derived from the common superordinate goal (Dovido, Gaertner, & Valilidzic, 1998; Gaertner et al, 1989).

The United Nations was founded with the hope that it would be all-inclusive and would lead to cooperation and lasting peace. It is for sure that the world would not have been a better place without the United Nations. However, the founding hopes have not been attained, and much work remains. The modern world is a constant struggle between the obvious importance of cooperation in building nations, and the desire of sub national groups for recognition and a larger share of the pie. Identification with sub national groups emerges from the belief that it is doing poorly in the sharing of resources compared to the majority (Huo, Smith, Tyler, & Lind, 1996). Migration increases tensions in many parts of the world, particularly in Europe and the United States. New arenas for competition have opened up as some minorities climb their way up the economic ladder. Although societies try in various ways to accommodate new groups, whether legal or illegal immigrants, there is little doubt that these arrivals test the old structures of cooperation and contribute to intergroup antagonism. How to develop more inclusive categories in the future so these become paramount in social interaction is the key challenge in developing more cooperative societies.

6.2 Perceived injustice and cooperation
Conflict occurs when one or more of the basic norms of equity, equality or needs are violated. We have seen that those who benefit from exploitation find ways of justifying inequity and inequality. People who find themselves as disenfranchised can respond with slave mentality and accept the unfair conditions of life. They can also demand compensation, or refuse to cooperate. We can observe these varying responses in modern revolutionary struggles, in the fight for racial equality and in women’s struggles to be treated fairly (Lowe & Wittig, 1989).

6.3 The pressing superordinate goals requiring our cooperation
We live in complex and difficult times. Each day we are reminded of what divides us rather than of the goals we have in common. Yet there are many superordinate goals that must be met for the human race to survive. These goals include overcoming ethnic conflict, pollution, the AIDS epidemic, the effects of globalization, the warming of the planet, and the continued threat of annihilation by nuclear weapons. These are the superordinate goals of humankind that can only be solved if we cooperate and work together for increasing harmony in the world (see also Galtung, 2005). Research has shown that when people become aware of a common threat they are more likely to cooperate and develop a more cohesive outlook. Those who have experienced a common enemy, and faced death together have been known to develop very close ties. We see that among the Veterans of the War on Vietnam today in the United States (Elder & Clipp, 1988), and likewise among the veterans of the colonial war fought by the Netherlands against the Indonesians fighting for their independence halfway through the twentieth century. What can be more threatening than the aforementioned issues that endanger not only individual survival, but also the well being of society and the world.

The effect of external threats on group cohesiveness is well understood by the leaders of nations. The effort to demonize the enemy, to increase his potential threat in the mind of the population, is used in order to motivate national morale (Larsen, 1976). Hitler used the technique in unleashing war in Europe, and other leaders are using similar threats and fears today. Nevertheless we must come to a consciousness that no nation can face the aforementioned real threats alone, that it is not possible to find security by increasing armaments, and that at the end of the day cooperative morality must find its place as the most effective means of dealing with external threat.

6.4 Trust and misperceptions
The world is still dominated by the belief that coercion is the only way to solve conflict. Yet all past wars refute this contention. Hitler thought that bombing Great Britain would bring the people to their collective knees, but it made the British even more determined to resist the enemy. The French and Americans thought coercion would lead to lasting peace in Vietnam to which end they bombed, tortured, and repressed the country without a peaceful outcome. History has proved the failure of these coercive methods. It is bewildering why national leaders still hang on to the idea that they can get their way by employing force and repression.

The key factor missing in moving the world toward more cooperation is the lack of trust in the opposing side. Leaders do not believe in the good intentions of the other side. At times those feelings are justified, but then again sometimes they are not and how can we tell the difference? Would a major conflict like the Cold war have short-circuited if trust had been employed in the early days of the Soviet Republic? Instead the hostile military intervention of the Western powers at the onset of the Soviet Union laid the basis for the mistrust that lasted for generations. What would have happened to the internal terror in the Soviet Union if Stalin had not have had the external threat of the West to justify his actions? We do not know, but the lack of trust was certainly used by both sides to keep the world on the brink of destruction.

The lack of trust was at least partly based on misperceptions. Of course the world is complex, and there are always many competing motives to take into account. However, keeping in mind the overriding superordinate goals the incompatibility between social systems should not have been allowed to interrupt cooperation during the Cold war, nor should it delay action today. As we have seen in an earlier chapter stereotyping is a response to reduce complexity. This form of absolute thinking leads to moral simplifications expressed in terms such as “evil empire”, and other negative categorizations. National leaders have in the past promoted these stereotypic responses and this has resulted in misperceptions. The behavior that emerges out of these misperceptions plays out as self-fulfilling prophecies as each side behaves appropriate to the stereotype. It is worth keeping in mind that when two sides have widely varying views of each other and themselves, they cannot both be right and that solutions to conflict require complex thinking (Deutsch, 1986). The end of the cold war was possible when the Soviet Union developed leadership capable of more complex evaluations, and accepted the superordinate goal of avoiding nuclear catastrophe (Tetlock, 1988). Unfortunately the complex thinking in the Soviet Union did not prevent internal social collapse and the rise of new hatreds.

6.5. Cooperation: The overriding morality of an interdependent world
We cannot but accept that we are becoming increasingly interdependent. Those promoting (economic) globalization base their thinking on an increasingly interdependent world. They pay however little attention to the increasing disparity in income, or other costs of globalization including pollution and the warming of the planet. Large industries have been destroyed in developed nations as capital is moved to more profitable parts of the globe. The shortsightedness of this development will come on display in future conflicts between those who have and those who have not. People who lose out in this new world of competition experience injustice, and this inequity contributes to disharmony and despair. It is also not just about money anymore, globalization and changing climate threaten basic needs such as access to water. And while many parts of the world go hungry we turn agricultural products into ethanol!

Where this process will end is not clear. Ordinary people often understand and experience the threats earlier than leaders can accept or find solutions. Once certain benchmarks in the process of global warming have been passed make restoring the damage extremely difficult. Cooperation on this and other superordinate goals is imperative for our future.

This final chapter of the book addresses issues of morality. Morality refers to principles that guide human behavior and our lives. When applying the measuring stick of morality we ask questions about the ideal, how it would be to live in a more perfect world. Typically moral principles are inclusive and apply to all members of a society or culture. There is some evidence for the universality of some moral principles including the idea that we should not harm others, and that basic human rights possess sanctity. Cultures, however, vary in whether the principle is defined as a moral obligation or a social convention. Some behaviors defined as social convention in one society are considered moral obligations in others. Socio-political concepts of freedom and individual rights are common to many societies. Some cultures also emphasize personal purity as a moral obligation.

There are three types of ethics governing moral behavior. These include autonomy that is expressed in the rights of the individual. The second ethic refers to community defining status and social hierarchy. A third ethic is divinity that expresses the obligations of personal purity. Some moral judgments are automatic and intuitive and more or less reflexive in response. Other judgments require complex cognition for instance in the abortion debate.

Our competitive society confronts us with moral issues and questions. Competition for scarce resources contributes to conflict as we saw in the study on the price of cotton and lynching in southern United States. Competition also contributes to ingroup cohesiveness while increasing conflict and scapegoating toward outgroups. The ethnic conflicts that occurred in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union and other socialist states are manifestations of competition, and feelings of injustice by sub national groups. Countries that are highly peaceful usually welcome diversity and show tolerance toward outgroups. A major source of conflict derives from the contradiction between selfish individual advantage and the common interest. Many of the important crises in the world like global warming are a consequence of small individual acts of selfishness that conflict with the common good.

Social psychology has developed a number of laboratory games to study competition and cooperation in the laboratory. The prisoner’s dilemma game is a laboratory analogy of competitive behavior. The basic idea is whether the participant either cooperates or competes with another participant. Over the long run competition produces the lowest payoff, but players still persist in competition. The arms race is similar since it is all about defining the intent of the opponent. The competitive ideology in society primes people to act competitively in social interaction. Simply labeling a laboratory game as “Wall Street” is sufficient to elicit competitive responses. In the “Nuts” game the investigators showed that groups of people act in the same selfish way. The tit for tat game where each play receives the matching response is easy to read and players soon understand that cooperation is the best payoff in the long run.

Ideological competition is dominated by the fundamental attribution error. The world is torn apart in ideological conflict where opponents are labeled in absolute terms. The fundamental attribution error overlooks the common interests of all parties and exaggerates differences. When we assume the worst of others we feed competition and the desire to win. Competition and the fundamental attribution error are ingrained constructs, and the damage caused comes about in small incremental steps. We cannot rely on free will to solve these problems but require regulations and laws to counteract. The norms of social responsibility should be made more salient within society and between nations for the sake of the health of the Earth. Research supports the importance of complexity of thinking and the ability to empathize with opponents in order to find the common ground.

Competition is a moral issue because it has negative social consequences including increased stress and poor health. In individualistic competitive societies many people are so stressed that they seek to escape by overeating, by the use of tobacco, and the abuse of drugs. Stress produces a mode of constant physiological armament that is related to many diseases. As a concept stress is psychological because we observe individual differences to stress. Still when stress related responses reach epidemic proportion we must acknowledge that there is something fundamentally wrong in society.

Responses to stress occur within the context of relationships and culture. In independent societies appeals for healthy behavior is most efficacious when directed toward the individual and his social responsibility. In interdependent cultures social networks of support are crucial in changing unhealthy behaviors. Research has established a strong link between lifestyles and health. Cancer rates would be significantly reduced if people would stop smoking. Overeating and drunk driving are also lifestyle choices. Attitude toward health is a significant factor in maintaining health and avoiding unhealthy lifestyles. Values including an interest in health, personal vulnerability, and self-efficacy are central to health choices. Impulsiveness also plays a role in health threatening behaviors including unprotected sex, and drug or alcohol abuse. Poverty produces learned helplessness and prevents people from having the necessary resources critical to good health. Cultures differ in the amount of social support rendered to those facing stress and illness. Competitive societies produce income disparity where victims feel the effects of accumulated injustice with subsequent health consequences. The beneficial effects of social support can be demonstrated in the speed of recovery by patients, and overall effectiveness in functioning.

Stress is always with us in some form, and societies have developed different ways to cope. Sometimes the aim is to reduce physiological arousal that accompanies stress through relaxation therapies including meditation and massage. Individual coping styles vary from hostility, to avoidance, to confronting stress directly. Personality plays a role as some people are optimistic, possess hardiness, and self-efficacy, all traits related to health functioning. One could say that the morality of a competitive society is measured in ill health.

Injustice produces poor health for the many as seen in lower birth weight at the start of existence, and shorter life spans. Justice morality refers to all the issues derived from unfairness in society, and people’s responses to injustice and the ideology of a just world. When people become aware of injustice they take measures to restore the imbalance. Frequently that happens by blaming the victim of injustice for his or her own misfortune. Those who possess wealth often justify disparities in resources by referring to rights of inheritance or natural talent, and by status ideology that justifies exploitation. Equity theory and distributive justice address issues of disparity in wealth and resources that seem to be increasing all over the world. People are ego-centered and believe they contribute more than their fair share to any interaction, so what is considered fair is determined by their self-interests. When comparing for status people compare within their own social group, overlooking the larger injustice of disparities between social classes.

Three types of distributive ideologies describe distributive justice. Equity demands that rewards correspond directly to contributions made. This ideology favors the winners in society, the materialistic and the wealthy, who retain more of their resources given equity in distribution. Equality is the ideological underpinnings of socialism that requires that all receive an equal share of the resources. The world is far from fulfilling any approximation of equality, and it is increasingly unequal within and between societies. Need is distribution justice practiced in many families. The need justifies unequal distribution, or may be the family’s way of approximating equality given unequal health and individual misfortune of their children.

Since we live in an imperfect world, law must decide disputes of distributory rewards. Authority decisions must be perceived as transparent when distributing punishments and rewards or they will be seen as unfair. Procedural justice is a function of the neutrality of the decision maker. For an authority to be seen as legitimate it must be perceived to have integrity, and treat any offender of the law with respect. Since we do not live in ideal societies coercion is still a part in all forms of justice. However, we should at least make certain that the legal procedures do not judge the innocent guilty.

In some Western legal systems eyewitness testimonies and jury processes are central to the search for the truth in legal cases. The legal system places great value on eyewitness testimonies, a confidence that is misplaced. Juries tend to overestimate the accuracy of eyewitness to crimes, and misleading testimony is the most frequent cause for miscarriage of justice.

Social perception and memory play a role in identification of the offender. Accurate memory in turn depends on our ability to acquire, store, and retrieve material relevant to a case. Unfortunately, evidence shows many possibilities for error and misjudgment. Crime related events often occur suddenly, and under poor visual conditions, when victims and bystanders are emotionally upset, not ideal conditions for accurate identification. Also stereotypic effects involving minorities obscure identification in some cases. Memory is not photographic, but an active process. So what happens between the event and the time of recall may influence what is remembered. Misleading questions by police and lawyers can lead to problems of source identification of the memory, so what occurred elsewhere becomes part of a different memory. Misidentification occurs frequently during lineups because the eyewitness looks for similarity in features to the offender rather than identifying the actual offender.

Intuition seems the most reliable indicator for correct identification like when the face of the offender suddenly appears in the mind. Thinking about the face or other comparison processes may confound memory. Furthermore, some eyewitnesses have motives to lie and wrongly identify. Unfortunately it is not easy to tell when a person is telling the truth. Lie detectors and hypnosis are imperfect instruments in the search for the truth. In the false memory syndrome we have the tragic instance of innocent people being accused of events that never happened. Some people have for example remembered child sexual abuse with the help of a therapist, but research has strongly debunked the reliability of such memories. DNA has now provided a more solid scientific basis for offender identification, unfortunately DNA material is not always present at crime scenes and identification still depends on unreliable eyewitness testimony.

The jury is the arbiter of the truth in legal cases. It is important to remember that juries are composed of average human beings with the same cognitive limitations and prejudices as other members of society. Pretrial testimony may prejudice the outcome against the defendant. The prosecution and the defense can either use the story approach or the witness sequence approach in presenting their cases to the jury. The story approach is stronger in persuasion and therefore injustice may be created by the manner in which testimony is presented. The most important factor in jury decisions is the majority opinion at the beginning of deliberation. At times the minority may have an effect on the level of guilt decided upon thus lowering the penalty for the accused.

The world needs more cooperation morality and reconciliation. From an evolutionary perspective people learned early in human history to cooperate because it contributed to survival. The most basic norm of moral reasoning is the reciprocity norm as described in the Golden Rule. Intergroup cooperation is partly a consequence of the type of contact between groups. The contact between slaves and master did not improve attitudes as the contact was based on inequality and exploitation. The literature points to the importance of equal status and common goals in contact situations that lead to more cooperative attitudes. The nature of the contact is critical as is the development of more inclusive group categories.

Conflict occurs when the basic norms of equity, equality, or needs are violated. Cooperative ideology therefore depends on our ability to develop fair access to resources, and to remove the varying forms of injustice from our social life. The world today has pressing superordinate goals the solution to which will determine the survival of the human race. Research has shown that when people become aware of common threats they cooperate and develop more cohesive and inclusive perspectives. Misleaders have also used external threat to demonize opponents in order to build group morale and resolve. However, cooperative morality is the most effective means of removing the significant threats we face now and in the future. History shows plainly that coercion does not solve conflicts. Mistrust and misperception of the opponent feed conflict.

We are living in an increasingly interdependent world. That reality requires that we find global solutions to the major problems of our times. It is ironic that those who advocate globalization ignore the most obvious contribution to conflict, the increasing disparities in income and resources. Cooperation is imperative in order to find solutions to the problems defined by our common superordinate goals. Our future depends on our ability to use all our knowledge and resources in finding these solutions. Social psychology will provide important information in that quest.