Saturday, October 27, 2007

Blog 2 social comparison for self-enhancement

‘Describe and explain the phenomenon of social comparison for self-enhancement. What is it and why does it occur? Include examples’.

People can differ extensively in terms of how they view and evaluate their personalities and abilities. Some people view themselves very positively and others more realistically. So who is likely to be better off, the individual with the overly positive self-perception or the person with the more realistic accurate self view? Some research suggests that having an enhanced view of ones self through social comparison can lead to very favourable outcomes, such as coping better mentally, emotionally and physically.

So what is social comparison for self-enhancement?

Social comparison
The theory of social comparison entails the process in which people learn about themselves by comparing themselves to others. There are two main types of social comparisons, upward social comparisons which involves comparing oneself to someone better than you. This could be to inspire you to want to do better in order to reach the others level. The second type is downward social comparisons which involves comparing oneself to someone worse off than you, to make yourself feel better (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008). For example if you compared your mark on the social psychology exam to someone who scored higher than you, you would be engaging in an upward social comparison. If you compared your mark to someone who did worse than you, you would be engaging in a downward social comparison.

Wayment and Taylor (1995) outlined self-enhancement as the need to maintain a positive sense of self. When looking at the specific use of social comparison as a way to meet self-enhancement needs, Wills (1981) suggested that the need to make favourable self-comparisons is especially acute under conditions of threat or low self-esteem. Wills argued that comparing oneself with a less fortunate other will lead an individual to feel better. However, self-enhancement is not necessarily limited to situations of threat (Bunnk, Cohen-Schotanus, & Henk van Nek, 2007). Paulhus (1998) uses the label self-enhancement to describe the tendency to overestimate one's positivity relative to a credible criterion. Similarly Sedikides, Gaertner, & Toguchi, (2003) conceptualized self-enhancement as the tendency to perceive oneself as superior to similar others. The authors argued that this is a universal human tendency that is found in all cultures (although the dimensions on which one enhances oneself may vary between cultures).

Kwan, John, Kenny, Bond, and Robins (2004) defined self-enhancement as social comparison in terms of viewing the self more positively than viewing others. Their study found that this type of self-enhancement was typically linked to positive results. Which leads to the point of why social comparison for self-enhancement occurs?

Why does social comparison for self-enhancement occur?
A study by Bunnk, Cohen-Schotanus, and Henk van Nek (2007) examined the motivations behind both upward and downward social comparisons and found they differed significantly. Upward social comparisons were motivated by self-improvement, particularly when they involved identification. They were also motivated by self-evaluation, particularly when they involved contrast. Downward comparisons were mainly motivated by self-enhancement, particularly when they involved contrast.

Two clear motives for engaging in social comparison for self-enhancement emerged from multiple research sources. Firstly, to make one feel better mentally and emotionally and secondly to cope better physically.

Feel better emotionally
The desire for self-enhancement in social comparison leads, according to a number of authors, to deriving a positive feeling from seeing that others are doing worse (Wayment & Taylor, 1995 ; Wills, 1981). Much research has shown that people tend to be self-enhancing when judging their abilities and future outcomes in comparison with those of other people. Relative to their peers, people believe they are morally superior and possess more favourable and less unfavourable personality traits (Alicke, 1985). Additionally people who tend to be self-enhancing are more likely to experience successes such as good marriages and lucrative jobs (Weinstein, 1980), and less likely to experience negative life events such as health and relationship problems (Murray, Holmes, & Griffin, 1996; Weinstein, 1980). Somewhat distorting one's resources, one's chances for success and the beneficence of the environment may enable people to strive longer and harder to reach their goals, thus bringing about a self-fulfilling prophecy (Taylor & Brown, 1988). Zuckerman & O’Loughlin’s (2006) findings are consistent with the proposal that self-enhancement (as social comparison) leads to psychological health. More specifically self-enhancers showed higher HSM scores (How I See Myself Questionnaire a face-valid scale that requires participants to rate themselves relative to their peers) than did their peers. In a more recent series of studies, Gibbons et al. (2002) found that after failure, participants had a much stronger preference to discuss their scores with others with lower scores than after success and said they did this because they thought it might make them feel better. This finding could indicate a link to the self serving bias, that after failure we seek out others who did just as bad or worse so we can externalise the failure. After success we prefer not to discuss our higher scores, instead assuming that we achieved the success for individual internal reasons, so we don’t need to compare against anyone else.

Gibbons, Blanton, Gerrard, Buunk, & Eggleston (2000) proposed an academic comparison level (ACL). Findings from their research showed downward shifts in ACL, serve an ego-protective function (enabling one to see themself in an enhanced way even after failure). For example if you received a pass on your last essay you would stop comparing yourself to credit average students and shift your ACL downward and start comparing yourself to pass average students or students who failed the essay. By comparing to someone who failed you protect your ego, “I may have only got a pass, but they failed!”

Cope better physically
It has also been proposed that social comparison for self enhancement can lead an individual to cope better physically. Taylor and Brown (1988) presented evidence that most people regard themselves more positively than they regard their peers and that such self-enhancement fosters better mental functioning. In additional support of this view a study conducted by Taylor, Lerner, Sherman, Sage, & McDowell (2003) found self-enhancing beliefs can also act as a stress buffer. The authors found that high self-enhancers had lower cardiovascular responses to stress, more rapid cardiovascular recovery, and lower baseline cortisol levels than low self-enhancers did. Additionally Bonanno, Rennicke, & Dekel (2005) examined self-enhancing bias as a predictor of adjustment among individuals in or near the World Trade Centre during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Self-enhancement was again found to be beneficial and was associated with a resilient outcome, ratings of better adjustment prior to September 11th, greater positive affect, and reduced perceptions of social constraints.

So far social comparison for self-enhancement seems to be engaged in because it leads to quite favourable outcomes such as feeling better emotionally and physically. An interesting point to note however is both Paulhus (1998) and Robins and Beer (2001) suggested that self-enhancement might be beneficial in the short term but damaging over the long run. For example comparing your grade on an essay to that of someone who did worse than you will temporarily make you feel better, but in the long run if the grade isn't what you wanted or expected you’re not going to be truly happy with it regardless of what others got. However we still engage in this temporary enhancer perhaps because we value this immediate gratification of felling better. But by getting this immediate gratification we do nothing to improve for the future because we evaluate our performance as not too bad compared to others this leads to repeat of the problem at a later date.

It seems that many people engage in social comparison to self enhance. Evidence from many studies clearly suggests that especially in situations implying a threat such as a serious disease, or academic failure individuals prefer to compare themselves with others who are worse off. Whether they do this because it makes them feel better or because it helps them cope better with stress depends on the individual.


Alicke, M. D. (1985). Global self-evaluation as determined by the desirability and
controllability of trait adjectives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49, 1621–1630.

Baumeister, R. F., & Bushman, B. J. (2008). Social Psychology and Human Nature Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth

Bonanno, G., Rennicke, C., & Dekel, S. (2005). Self-enhancement among high-
exposure survivors of the September 11th terrorist attack: Resilience or social maladjustment? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 984-998.

Bunnk, A. P, Cohen-Schotanus, J., & Henk van Nek, R. (2007). Why and how people
engage in social comparison while learning social skills in groups. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 11, 140-152.

Gibbons, F. X, Blanton, H., Gerrard, M., Buunk, B., & Eggleston, T. (2000). Does
social comparison make a difference? Optimism as a moderator of the relation between comparison level and academic performance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 637-648.

Gibbons, F. X., Lane, D. J., Gerrard, M., Reis-Bergan, M., Lautrup, C. L., Pexa, N.
A. (2002). Comparison-level preferences after performance: Is downward comparison theory still useful? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 865–880.

Kwan, V. S. Y., John, O. P., Kenny, D. A., Bond, M. H., & Robins, R. W. (2004).
Reconceptualizing individual differences in self-enhancement bias: An
interpersonal approach. Psychological Review, 111, 94-110.

Murray, S. L., Holmes, J. G.,&Griffin, D.W. (1996). The benefits of positive
illusions: Idealization and the construction of satisfaction in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 79–98.

Paulhus, D. L. (1998). Intrapersonal and intrapsychic adaptiveness of trait
self-enhancement: Amixed blessing? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1197-1208.

Robins, R. W., & Beer, J. S. (2001). Positive illusions about the self: Short-
term benefits and long-term costs. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 340-352.

Sedikides, C., Gaertner, L., & Toguchi, Y. (2003). Pancultural self-enhancement.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 60–79.

Taylor, S. E., & Brown, J. D. (1988). Illusion and well-being: A social psychological
perspective on mental health. Psychological Bulletin, 103, 193-210.

Taylor, S. E., Lerner, J. S., Sherman, D. K., Sage, R.M., &McDowell, N. K. (2003).
Are self-enhancing conditions associated with healthy or unhealthy biological profiles? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 605-615.

Wayment, H. A., & Taylor, S. E. (1995). Self-evaluation processes: Motives,
information use, and self-esteem. Journal of Personality, 63, 729–757.

Weinstein, N. D. (1980). Unrealistic optimism about future life events. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology
, 39, 806–820.

Wills, T. A. (1981). Downward comparison principles in social psychology. Psychological Bulletin, 90, 245–271.

Zuckerman, M., & O’Loughlin, R. E. (2006). Self-enhancement by social
comparison: a prospective analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 751-760.

Appendix A

Self Assessment

Theory: I feel I addressed the appropriate theory for the question. There was a lot of research for both social comparison and self-enhancement so I provided definitions of both individually and then a definition of them combined. I also found several different ways of defining self enhancement so included several researchers’ definitions. Much research enabled me to find the main reasons proposed to account for the phenomenon.

Research: As evident from my reference list research articles for this topic are not in short supply. After reviewing many many articles I found there were two general headings all reasons for self enhancement by social comparison comes under, to feel better emotionally or to cope better physically.

Written Expression: I tried to write the essay in less of a formal research style and more of a blog style, adding in examples relevant to university students to try to clarify points made. The topic in general is not too complex so I tried to keep the message simple and easy to follow. I edited my essay until I reached a readability level of 12. I put headings in where I thought they would help the reader to follow. I also kept below the maximum word count and finished up with a total of 1, 422 words.

On-line Engagement: I feel really happy with my online engagement for the second blog. I feel it has been a great way to connect with the whole unit group regarding out opinions and ideas. I was a lot more confident regarding the bloging process this time so was able to contribute much more. I commented on seven other students’ posts where I felt I had something worth contributing or was simply interested in it. I also posted four of my own posts and had some great comments back. I also figured out how to add a poll and was able to get some votes on a topic I found interesting.

Appendix B
Comments on other’s Blogs

Jacqui’s social psych blog -

Mikes Blog-

BecBlair’s Blog-

Christina’s social psych Blog-

Josie’s social psych Blog-

Rebecca’s psych Blog-

Mrs Freud’s social psych Blog-

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Where do you compare?

Hi all, as I mentioned in an earlier blog my topic for blog 2 is ‘Describe and explain the phenomenon of social comparison for self-enhancement. What is it and why does it occur? Include examples’. Since getting this topic I have been thinking of all the areas of my life where I engage in social comparison. We just sat our social exam and I realised that I was much less distracted by having almost everyone stay till the end. I find that in other exams I see people get up and leave the exam when I am only half way through. I compare myself to them and think ‘they must be really good and must have known the topic so well!’ I found that the exam we just sat was much less distracting because it was more difficult to compare to others timing.
So back to examples of social comparison….I work in a ladies clothing store, last weekend I observed a relevant interaction of social comparison. Two ladies stepped out of the change rooms wearing the same dress. They both laughed, then told each other they both looked good. I could see them eyeing each other up and down very purposefully though. The first lady walked out of the fitting room and said “no I won’t take it, it looked better on the other lady”. The second lady walked out, and said pretty much the same thing. After they had left I thought why does it matter what it looked like on the other person….it matters what it looks like on you……But isn’t this the same as comparing grades…why does it matter if your friend got a HD, what matters is YOU got a credit. I have two things I would like people to think about…first is there any social comparison that is necessary or a good thing…and second can people think of everyday examples where they see or engage in social comparison (especially for self enhancement)….. : )

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

To ostracise

Hi all while reading our text recently I came across the interesting paragraph on the origins of the work ostracism. A Greek term, where if someone was violent or aggressive or rude they would have their name written down on a broken bit of pot and put in a large container in the centre of the market place. If someone had their name written 6,000 times the whole community agreed to give them 10years silent treatment. I was quite interested by this and started telling family and friends and was further interested by their reactions. Some people reacted by saying “wow that’s so harsh” or “that’s worse than prison”….others said “oh I wish we still had that in place today” or “what a great idea”……tell me what you all think in my poll...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Does our need for similarity decline as we age?

Hi everyone, Since the lecture on attraction I have been reading over people' comments on their blogs regarding being attracted to people who are similar to you as opposed to people who are different. I was looking around and couldn't find any literature stating whether this finding differed depending on age. I wanted to find this as I was thinking my partner and I tend to be very similar in so many aspects of our life, such as eductation level, ses, morals, values, family,friends....even things like cooking and cleaning habits. I was thinking though, perhaps we are so similar because we started seeing each other so early on in our lives and so were experiencing so many new things like living out of home at the same time. In contrast a collegue at work who is much older than me said that when she separated from her husband she found it very difficult to find anyone with hardly any similarities to her. She said she was at a stage in her life where she was set in her ways and unwilling to have to change her lifestyle to suit someone else. Her current partner and herself seem to be completely opposite in so many ways yet she says they are so similar in their home life that the other differences works in their favour. I was wondering if the areas of similarity that we seek change depending on our age. Just something to think about....What areas do you think you look for similarity in? and what areas do you appreciate differences in?....

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Social comparison regarding school work

Hi all, the topic I chose for my second blog is about self enhancement by social comparison. I chose this topic because I think I frequently engage in it regarding school work. That is, I feel better about a grade I got when I compare myself to someone who got a grade less than mine, and as mean as it is it makes me feel better about the grade. Unfortunately I do the opposite of this much more. Often I will get a grade that I am really happy with but as soon as I hear of others grades that were better than mine, I automatically feel that my grade wasn’t that great. I realised just how much I was doing this last semester and I came to the conclusion that everyone has different circumstances and the only person I should be comparing myself to, is me! So if I look back at the work I produced in first year then I the grades I am getting now and the work I am producing now I see that I am definitely improving. This is good in theory, however I still find myself engaging in social comparisons. I was just wondering if anyone else finds they do this? Some people I have talked to say they don’t so I thought I would see where everyone else is at.
Thanks rach.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination in the modern world

Prejudice and Discrimination are closely related concepts, and the terms have become almost interchangeable in popular use. Social scientists, however, prefer to define the terms precisely. Crandall, Eshleman and O’Brien (2002) define prejudice as a negative evaluation of a group or of an individual on the sole basis of group membership. Discrimination is defined as the unequal treatment of different people based on the groups or categories to which they belong (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008).

Tired of witnessing discrimination and prejudicial attitudes, in 1968 American third grade teacher Jane Elliot trialed an experiment she had been thinking of for some time. The experiment segregated the children of her classroom based on eye colour. Children with brown eyes were the first group to experience being the ‘inferior’ group with the blue eyed children being ‘on top’. The following day the groups were reversed (Frontline, 1985). Today Jane Elliot is widely known and has carried out the experiment in many countries working mainly with adults. ‘Australian eye’ was one of Elliot’s seminars carried out in 2002 in Sydney, Australia. In this seminar the brown-eyed participants were ‘on top’ and the blue eyed participants were ‘inferior’. This gave minority groups such as Aboriginals a chance to voice their opinions and experience feelings of power, control and superiority. The seminar also gave blue eyed participants a chance to experience what it is like to be in a minority group. This was shown when one of the blue eyed participants nicknamed by Elliot as ‘Blondie’ made the comment “I have to conform to the way you want me to be, and not who I am” Elliot responded with “and what does that teach you?” Blondie replied “that I’m significant”. This comment had many of the brown-eyed participants who were looking on nodding as if to show that is how they feel everyday and not just when in a seminar.

In recent years people’s willingness to express prejudice has continued to decrease, attitudes toward racial and ethnic minorities as measured in surveys are becoming increasingly positive and less prejudiced (Crandall, Eshleman and O’Brien, 2002). However is prejudice really on the decline, or is it just changing its representation from overt prejudice to covert? Interpersonal or covert discrimination is subtle and therefore difficult to identify, assess, and eradicate. Contemporary discrimination research contends that although the incidence of major discriminatory acts and overtly prejudiced attitudes have dropped considerably, these actions and attitudes have been supplanted by everyday discrimination or more covert forms of prejudice that manifest in subtle, indirect discriminatory behaviours. Researchers suggest that socials norms and political correctness concerns have motivated this shift in the way prejudice and discrimination is expressed (King et al, 2006). The justification–suppression model proposes that genuine prejudice is followed either by justification or suppression factors leading an individual to (or not to) express this prejudice. According to the justification–suppression model, removing a perceiver’s justification for expressing prejudice should reduce the likelihood of discrimination. In response to this model, researchers have begun to develop measures of subtle discrimination and implicit prejudice, such as the Implicit Associations Test, priming measures, and measures of interpersonal nonverbal behaviours such as social distance, facial expressions, eye contact, eye blinking, and smiling. Nonverbal behaviours have received considerable attention because of their tendency to leak out and influence interaction. Kings findings suggest that interventions aimed at reducing interpersonal discrimination should target individuals’ justifications for prejudices

Reducing prejudice
Plant and Devine (1998) argue that there are two main reasons for wanting to overcome prejudice. First is those internally motivated this refers to one’s dedication to equality and the belief that to be prejudiced is morally wrong. The other is those externally motivated where the individual is not motivated by a sincere change in their personal attitude; rather they are motivated by societal pressures and wanting to avoid social disapproval.

A study conducted by Greenwald, McGhee & Schwartz (1998) showed that people hold prejudiced attitudes towards particular social groups at the implicit or unconscious level, even though they honestly report having no prejudiced attitudes at the explicit or conscious level. To combat this attitude one must identify and consciously override their prejudice.

Contact hypothesis.
The contact hypothesis predicts that cooperative interaction with members of a disliked group
results in increased liking for those members and generalizes to more positive attitudes toward thegroup (Desforges et al 1991). Amir (1969) discusses the favourable conditions which tend to reduce prejudice through the contact hypothesis. These are (a) when there is equal status contact between the members of the various ethnic groups, (b) the contact must be positive, and (c) the out-group members must be perceived as being typical for their group. A meta-analytic review conducted by Pettigrew and Tropp (2006) concluded that contact under these conditions typically leads to even greater reduction in prejudice. The authors also add that the meta-analytic findings indicate these conditions are not essential for prejudice reduction. Therefore it is suggested that future work should also look at negative factors that prevent intergroup contact

Vicarious contact
Vicarious contact or the extended contact hypothesis proposes that the knowledge of an in-group member having a close relationship with an out-group member can lead to more positive intergroup attitudes. A study showed participants experienced less negative out-group attitudes when observing an apparent in-group-out-group friendship (Wright, Aron, McLaughlin-Volpe, & Ropp, 1997)

Covert expressions of prejudice
Overt forms of prejudice can be reduced through traditional techniques such as direct educational and attitude change techniques. Contemporary or covert expressions of prejudice however may require alternative strategies orientated towards the individual or involving inter group contact. Individual-orientated techniques can involve leading people to discover inconsistencies among their self-images, behaviours and values. Such inconsistencies can arouse negative emotional states (such as guilt) which motivate the development for more favourable attitudes. Intergroup strategies can involve structuring intergroup contact to produce more individualised perceptions of members of the other group. Showing inter-group contact can be effective in reducing covert expressions of prejudice also (Dovidio & Gaertner, 1999). Although automatically activated covert prejudice (e.g., eye contact, body posture, and speech errors) can bias behaviour, this effect is not obligatory. It depends on how aware people are of the possibility of bias, how motivated they are to correct potential bias, and how much control they have over their judgment or behaviour (Dasgupta & Rivera, 2006). In the documentary Australian Eye Jane Elliot states white people have certain freedoms. The first she says is “the freedom to be ignorant of people who are different from themselves”. The second is “the freedom to deny we’re ignorant”. In the case of covert prejudice Elliot’s point on ‘white freedoms’ implies one can choose to not be aware of biases they poses and have no desire, intention or motivation to become aware.

Discrimination in reverse
Discrimination in reverse is another technique known to reduce individual’s prejudicial attitudes and behaviours. A study conducted by Dutton and Lakes (1973) showed simply accusing someone of being prejudiced can cause them to exert themselves to prove the opposite. The authors define this ‘reverse discrimination’ as an attempt by a person who thinks racial prejudice is undesirable and who is threatened by the possibility that they themselves might be prejudiced to prove to themselves through their behaviour that they in fact are not prejudiced.

Superordinate goals
The interdependent learning environment developed to encourage cooperation is known as the jigsaw classroom. This technique has shown a decrease in racial prejudice, an increase in academic performance, and an increase in their belief that participants could learn from other group members. This study emphasises the power of superordinate goals in reducing prejudice (Aronson & Osherow, 1980).

Of all human weaknesses, none is more destructive of the dignity of the individual and the social bonds of humanity than prejudice. According to a variety of investigators, modern prejudice and discrimination has merely become more subtle. Many people carefully avoid overt expressions of prejudicial attitudes but covertly continue to harbour negative views of racial minorities (Dovitio & Gaertner, 1999). Through optimal contact, the conscious decision to override prejudice attitudes, vicarious contact, or education attitudes can be changed. The techniques of discrimination in reverse or the use of superordinate goals also help reduce prejudice and discrimination. The final comment made in Australian Eye by an Aboriginal man sums up the need for individuals to act on attitudes of prejudice and discrimination, “If we do nothing, nothing will change!”.



Amir, Y. (1969). Contact hypothesis in ethnic relations. Psychological Bulletin, 71, 319-342.

Aronson, E., & Osherow, N. (1980). Cooperation, prosocial behaviour, and academic performance: Experiments in the desegregated classroom. Applied Social Psychology Annual, 1, 163-196.

Baumeister, R. F., & Bushman, B. J. (2008). Social Psychology and Human Nature (1st ed.) Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth

Cullen, P. (2002). Jane Elliot’s Australian Eye. Annamax Media Pty Ltd.

Crandall, C. S., Eshleman, A., & O’Brien, L. (2002). Social norms and the expression and suppression of prejudice: the struggle for internalization. Journal of personality and Social Psychology, 82, 359-378.

Dovidio, J. F., & Gaertner, S. L. (1999) Reducing prejudice: Combating intergroup biases. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 8, 101-105.

Dusgupta, N., & Rivera, L. M. (2006). From automatic antigay prejudice to behaviour: the moderating role of conscious beliefs about gender and behavioural control. Journal of personality and Social Psychology, 91, 268-280.

Dutton, D. G., & Lake, R. A. (1973). Threat of own prejudice and reverse discrimination in interracial situations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 28, 94-100.

Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D. E., & Schwartz, J. K L. (1998). Measuring individual differences in
implicit cognition: The implicit association test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1464-1480.

King, E. B., Shapiro, J. R., Hebl, M. R., Singletary, S. L., & Turner, S. (2006). The stigma of obesity in customer service: a mechanism for remediation and bottom-line consequences of interpersonal discrimination. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91, 579-593.

Peters, W. (1985). Frontline: A class divided. Retrieved September 1, 2007, Web site:

Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. R. (2006). A meta-analytic test of intergroup contact theory. . Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 751-783.

Plant, E. A., & Devine , P. G. (1998). Internal and external motivation to respond without prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 811-832.

Wright, S. C., Aron, A., McLaughlin-Volpe, T., & Ropp, S. A. (1997). The extended contact effect: Knowledge of cross-group friendships and prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 73-90.

The readability of my blog was measured at 47.6 on the Flesch Reading Ease (this is within the recommended range of 42 or above) and 11.1 on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (this is within the recommended range of 12 or below). This was calculated by using Microsoft Word’s Readability Statistics function. The essay has headings structured throughout to make the content easier to follow. The text is all the same size and colour (standard APA, times new roman font, in black, font size 10) this is done to enhance the readability of the blog. The concept map is improved by adding colour to the boxes enhancing the overall appeal of the chart. The concept map has been kept simple so the main points are clear and one can obtain the overall general idea of the topic quickly without becoming overloaded.

Self AssessmentTheory
I feel my blog covered the many approaches and models used when looking at reducing prejudice and discrimination. Additionally I feel appropriate definitions of all terms and concepts were listed to ensure appropriate depth and understanding to all readers. The theories were linked to the documentary ‘Australian Eye’ where relevant.Written expression
A readability analysis is provided as one of the appendix links. The APA style of the paper is moderate. I am not sure if my use of headings is correct formal APA style and the essay has not been double spaced. However the font is correct APA style as is the reference list. I have tried to make the essay and each section flow as well as possible without using up too many words (due to the word limit). I feel if an essay flows well it is much more enjoyable to read.

In the lead up to writing this essay I was very thorough in my reading and research so as to obtain the most comprehensive results. There were many articles that I read that I did not end up using as references however they worked very well as background reading.

Online Engagement
I have been reasonably active in my online engagement. The technical aspect was very difficult for me to grasp at first however perseverance paid off. My first blog was aimed at providing readers with information that I had researched and found interesting. The rest of my blogs were primarily written for readers to view my opinions and aspects about specific topics. I have made comments on others blogs and aimed to partake in surveys and quizzes other students had listed on their blogs. I feel had I been more competent and skilled at using online resources I may have been able to comfortable engage in posting blogs earlier, however I still feel I made a valuable contribution. In future I plan to make time to try and read and comment on more blogs, as well as do more research on interesting areas for the benefit of readers.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Aversive racism

Hi all, I'm finally getting used to this 'blogging' concept and have a few more thoughts to share. Firstly i've finally made up my mind regarding the assessable blog and i'm going to do #7 on reducing prejudice. Ive been reading and researching for a while and this topic seems to keep grabbing by attention the most. One of the biggest problems as far as I can see is Aversive racists, who simultaneously hold egalitarian values and at the same time negative feelings towards minorities. The problem here is you may be one, as an aversive racist truely believes in racial equality and equal opportunities, yet feel uncomfortable around minorities and may even avoid them where possible. So how can one change their negative views about minorities if they aren't even aware that they have them. I think it requires alot of time and conscious effort, as you must truely look at yourself and reflect on all the situations you choose to put yourself in (or choose to not put yourself in). It is easy to preech equal opportunities and then just subconsciously make sure your not exposed to any minoritity groups. So the biggest problem seems to be if you believe that your not racist in any way, why would you find it necessary to question yourself in the first place?..... I guess this is one reason why the cycle continues.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Labels in Psychology, Friend or Foe?

Hi Fiona in responce to your blog I had some opinions on this issue I wanted to express. I also attended the guest lecture presented by Pilgrim and I do agree with your side of the argument and the negative connotations that labelling someone with a mental illness can have. However I have to say that sometimes it can have very positive effects to belong to a group or to simply be able to put a name to it. A relative of mine suffered (undiagnosed) with bipolar for nearly ten years and had reached a stage where he felt he no longer knew who he was. It was amazing to see the relief he gained simply by knowing what he had. By gaining the title of bipolar he was able to research and find so many other people were just like him with very similar symptoms. Having said that I have also experienced the negative problems that can come about from being labelled. I'm sure at some point in our lives we have all heard people being described as a 'psycho' or a 'schizo' in reference to their mental illness. A friend of mine who was open about his diagnosis faced isolation from many people he had considered friends. I guess that comes down to stereotypes, ignorance and the stigma attached to the labels of mental illness. Unfortunately I think this topic has no easy clear-cut answer. However I think David Pilgrims views were very interesting and made me question the oh so holy DSM. I think as time goes on this debate of labelling will develop more and more.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Where Jane Elliot began

Hi all I’ve finally figured out how to post a blog (yay!). After viewing the video in the tute on Jane Elliot’s blue eye brown eye experiment in Australia I thought I’d share with everyone the history of this experiment and where Jane Elliot began…
‘The Blue eyes, Brown eyes’ exercise, was originally created by third grade teacher Jane Elliott. In April 1968 the day after martin Luther king was shot, Elliott decided to try out the experiment that she had had in her head for some time. Martin Luther King had recently been labelled their class ‘hero’ of the month. Elliott knew her class would have many questions, one student asked "They shot a king Ms Elliott, why would they shoot a king?" There was no way Elliott could explain to third graders why King had been assassinated, so she decided to show them. She began the class that day with a discussion, she asked the children to think about all the people across America. She said of all those people, who do you think is treated differently or unfairly? The children responded with, ‘Blacks’ All these children lived in Riceville, Iowa a small Christian ‘All White’ community. None of the students had ever met a black person, so she asked them what they knew about black people. The children replied ‘They’re dirty, They steal, They stink, You can’t trust them!" Elliott asked if they thought it was fair they are treated badly because of their skin colour? They replied no and with that Elliott proposed they try an experiment to see how it feels to be so mistreated.
As the children all had the same colour skin, she divided them by another factor by which they have no control over, eye colour. On the first day the blue eye students were ‘on top’ they were given many privileges, the brown eye students had all their rights taken away. They weren’t allowed to drink from the water fountain, had a shorter recess, and weren’t allowed second helpings at lunch, they were given rules that enforced their second class status and were made to wear collars (The same as the green ones the Adults wore in the DVD we just watched) to show to everyone clearly they were ‘Brown Eye’ children. The brown eyes were called inferior, lazy, stupid, and made to feel like lesser human beings. Children who played together as friends the day before now would tease and ridicule because one had brown eyes. Two boys had a physical fight because a blue eye boy, insulted the other boy by calling him ‘ Brown eyes’.
The following day Elliott announced there had been a mistake and the Brown eyed students were in fact the superior students. She told the Brown eyed students to take off the collars they were wearing and put them on a blue eyed student. The brown eye students, who had the day before been quiet, withdrawn, sullen, and angry, were now happy, acting superior, confident and domineering. The way the students behaved, proved to Elliott that prejudice is a learned attitude.
On the day the Brown eyes were on top, it took the Blue eye children four minutes and twenty seconds to complete a visual card pack. The day they were on top however it took only three minutes. The day the Blue eyes were on top, it took the brown eyed children five and a half minutes to get through the card pack, yet again on the day they were on top it took only two and a half minutes.

The only thing that had changed each time was depending on the day they had been told they were either superior, or inferior people. Elliott asked the students why did it take you so long when you were wearing the collar? The children’s response was, we weren’t as smart and couldn’t think as well with the collars on.
At the end of the experiment Elliott asked should the colour of someone’s eyes have anything to do with how we treat them? The children shouted no, then Elliott asked, should their skin? The children strongly shouted no!
Elliott was able to show these children Prejudice and Discrimination, in a way that deeply affected them.
A reunion was held 14 years after the experiment and the children, now adults with their own children said they had carried the lessons they learned those days with them their whole lives, and that their children would never learn racism from them.
Elliott made a sample from her third grade class in 1968, divided them, and watched their behaviour change, their grades alter and even their personalities transform. The results have shown to be very positive, from children with strong racial issues, to children with the ability to have compassion and understanding for all races.

I hope you all found that interesting, isn't it amazing to see what a huge difference one person can make!