Web Exercises

  1. Define deindividuation. Describe one early study demonstrating the phenomenon. Contrast Zimbardo’s explanation of deindividuation with the social identity account. Deindividuation is often invoked to explain riots. It may also help explain the lesser-known phenomenon called “suicide baiting” mentioned in Chapter 1. Read https://brucemhood.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/suicide-baiting/ for a description of suicide baiting and visit http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7288565 for the abstract of Mann’s (1981) early scientific study of the phenomenon. An account of a recent instance of suicide baiting appears at http://www.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2013/01/24/public-influence-how-deindividuation-theory-helps-explain-suicide-baiting; see http://ipinionsyndicate.com/suicide-baiting-they-cheered-while-my-son-jumped/ for a piece written by the victim’s mother in this case. Drawing on all these sources as appropriate, explain how deindividuation seems to characterize suicide baiting. Think back to Chapters 8 and 9 in your text: suggest how diffusion of responsibility (Chapter 8) and the cognitive neoassociationist theory of aggression (Chapter 9) may also contribute to an explanation of suicide baiting. Be sure to make reference to the effects of specific variables in your answer. Finally, suggest how you might explain suicide baiting using the social identity alternative to Zimbardo’s explanation. This exercise develops your ability to describe deindividuation, outline Zimbardo’s explanation for it, and describe the social identity alternative explanation.
  2. Social Psychology in the News. Define groupthink. Identify some of the symptoms and antecedents of groupthink. President Kennedy’s ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion is the classic example of the negative consequences of groupthink. Your textbook cites the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger and the 2003 invasion of Iraq as more recent examples. An instance from the past few years may be Pennsylvania State University’s cover-up in 2012 of the sexual abuse of its athletes by its coaching staff. Read the story at http://ideas.time.com/2012/07/17/penn-state-cover-up-group-think-in-action/. Relate the information provided in the story to your textbook’s discussion of the antecedents and symptoms of groupthink: how and to what extent does the incident at Penn State reflect groupthink? Does the groupthink model sufficiently explain this incident? How might groupthink have been avoided in this case? This exercise will help you analyze the groupthink model, including its major antecedents, symptoms, and risks, and the strategies to prevent it.
  3. Social Psychology, Social Media, and Technology. Describe a situation in which you have participated in a group brainstorming session. To what extent did your group follow Osborn’s guidelines for effective brainstorming? If you have not participated in such a session, describe a hypothetical situation in which you might use the technique and state three of Osborn’s recommendations your group would follow. Why might online brainstorming be more effective? A mind map is a diagram used to organize information visually. It is often created around a single concept, drawn as an image in the center of a blank page, to which associated representations of ideas such as images, words, and parts of words are connected (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map). Do you use or anticipate using brainstorming and/or mind-mapping in your college courses? Do you foresee a role for these techniques in your postcollege career? Explain. Visit www.fastcompany.com/3029687/work-smart/5-free-apps-for-mapping-your-mind for a description of several mind-free mind-mapping and brainstorming tools for your Android phone and/or iPhone. Download one of the apps and try mapping one of these major concepts from your textbook: aggression, prosocial behavior, or prejudice. Which app did you use? Which concept did you map? Did you work alone or collaboratively? Was the mapping easy to do? Did the activity enhance your understanding of the concept? Would you like to continue using the tool in your college courses? This exercise develops your understanding of brainstorming and introduces you to mind mapping aids.
  4. Doing Research. What is meant by a case study? List two examples of social psychological case studies described in your textbook. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of case study research. Visit https://abdullaman.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/five-landmark-psychology-case-studies-you-should-know-about/. Read the descriptions of the “Genie” and “John/Joan” cases, #2 and #5, respectively. Additionally, view the video clip on the John/Joan case, the last of the clips toward the bottom of the page. Briefly describe each case and explain what psychologists learned in each instance. How do these cases reflect the advantages and disadvantages of case study research? Are there any ethical issues raised by the Genie and John/Joan cases? If so, what are they and how could they have been avoided (if at all)? This exercise helps you identify the major advantages and disadvantages of the case study approach.
  5. Social Psychology Applied to Law: Jury Decision-Making. Visit http://www.apa.org/monitor/2008/03/jn.aspx. In your own words, define a “dynamite charge” and explain its purpose. Based on information provided in your textbook, why do you think juries might be especially prone to groupthink? How might the jury selection process, the practice of sequestering juries, the practice of appointing a jury foreperson, and the dynamite charge described in the APA article exacerbate the tendency toward groupthink in a jury? What might a jury foreperson do to mitigate the effects of these factors? How might a dynamite charge influence processes of conformity and persuasion during jury deliberation? Make reference to at least two of the following distinctions in your answer: a) normative vs. informational influence; b) central vs. peripheral routes to persuasion; and c) systematic vs. heuristic processing. How might the effects of a dynamite charge compromise the notion of a fair trial? This exercise highlights how trial processes may influence jury deliberations, leading potentially to an unjust outcome. It additionally affords an opportunity to apply social influence concepts you learned earlier in the course.