7. Prejudice can exist without discrimination and vice versa. Comment.
Answer : Prejudices can exist without being shown in the form of discrimination. Similarly, discrimination can be shown without prejudice. Yet, the two go together very often. Wherever prejudice and discrimination exist, conflicts are very likely to arise between groups within the same society. Our own society has witnessed many deplorable instances of discrimination, with and without prejudice, based on gender, religion, community, caste, physical handicap, and illnesses such as AIDS. Moreover, in many cases discriminatory behaviour can be curbed by law. But, the cognitive and emotional components of prejudice are more difficult to change.
8. Describe the important factors that influence impression formation.
Answer : Impression formation and attribution are influenced by :
(i) The nature of information available to the perceiver.
(ii) Social schemas in the perceiver (including stereotypes).
(iii) personality characteristics of the perceiver.
(iv) situational factors.
The following aspects have been found in impression formation :
(a) Selection : we take into account only some bits of information about the target person.
(b) Organisation : the selected information is combined in a systematic way.
(c) Inference : we draw a conclusion about what kind of person the target is.
9. Explain how the attribution made by an ‘actor’ would be different from that of an ‘observer’.
Answer : A distinction is also found between the attribution that a person makes for her/his own positive and negative experiences (actor-role), and the attribution made for another person’s positive and negative experiences (observer-role). This is called the actor-observer effect. For example, if you yourself get good marks in a test, you will attribute it to your own ability or hard work (actor-role, internal
attribution for a positive experience). If you get bad marks, you will say that this was because you were unlucky, or that the test was too difficult (actor-role, external attribution for a negative experience). On the other hand, if one of your classmates gets good marks in the test, you will attribute her/his success to good luck or an easy test (observer-role, external attribution for
a positive experience). If the same classmate gets bad marks, you are likely to say that her/his failure was because of low ability or lack of effort (observer-role, internal attribution for a negative
experience). The basic reason for the difference between the actor and observer roles is that people want to have a nice image of themselves, as compared to others.
10. How does social facilitation take place?
Answer : One of the first observations made about social behaviour was that performance on specific tasks is influenced by the mere presence of others. This is called social facilitation.
For example, Reena is about to participate in a music contest. She is very talented, yet she is feeling very nervous about the event. If you were in Reena’s place, would you perform better in front of an audience, or when you are alone? As early as 1897, Norman Triplett observed that individuals show better performance in the presence of others, than when they are performing the same task alone. For instance, cyclists racing with each other perform better than when they cycle alone. With time more details came to be known about this phenomenon.
(i) Better performance in the presence of others is because the person experiences arousal, which makes the person react in a more intense manner. This explanation was given by Zajonc (this name is pronounced to rhyme with ‘science’).
(ii) The arousal is because the person feels she or he is being evaluated. Cottrell called this idea evaluation apprehension. The person will be praised if the performance is good (reward), or criticised if it is bad (punishment). We wish to get praise and avoid criticism, therefore we try to perform well and avoid mistakes.
(iii) The nature of the task to be performed also affects the performance in the presence of others. For example, in the case of a simple or familiar task, the person is more sure of performing well, and the eagerness to get praise or reward is stronger. So the individual performs better in the presence of others than s/he does when alone. But in the case of a complex or new task, the person may be afraid of making mistakes. The fear of criticism or punishment is stronger. So the individual performs
worse in the presence of others than s/he does when alone.
(iv) If the others present are also performing the same task, this is called a situation of co-action. In this situation, there is social comparison and competition. Once again, when the task is simple or a familiar one, performance is better under co-action than when the person is alone.
11. Explain the concept of pro-social behaviour.
Answer : Throughout the world, doing good to others and being helpful is described as a virtue. All religions teach us that we should help those who are in need. This behaviour is called helping or pro-social behaviour. Pro-social behaviour is very similar to ‘altruism’, which means doing something for or thinking about the welfare of others without any self-interest (in Latin ‘alter’ means ‘other’, the opposite of ‘ego’ which means ‘self’). Some common examples of pro-social behaviour are sharing things, cooperating with others, helping during natural calamities, showing sympathy, doing favours to others, and making charitable donations.
Pro-social behaviour has the following characteristics. It must:
(i) aim to benefit or do good to another person or other persons.
(ii) be done without expecting anything in return.
(iii) be done willingly by the person, and not because of any kind of pressure.
(iv) involve some difficulty or ‘cost’ to the person giving help.
For instance, if a rich person donates a lot of money that is obtained illegally, with the idea that her/his photograph and name will appear in the newspapers, this cannot be called ‘pro-social behaviour’ although the donation may do good to many people.
In spite of the great value and importance attached to pro-social behaviour, people do not show such
behaviour very often. Immediately after the Mumbai blasts on 11 July, 2006, the community stepped forward to help the blast victims in any way they could. By contrast, on an earlier occasion, nobody
came forward to help a girl on a moving suburban train in Mumbai, when her purse was being snatched. The other passengers did nothing to help, and the girl was thrown out of the train. Even as the girl was lying injured on the railway tracks, people living in the buildings around the area did not come to help her.
12. Your friend eats too much junk food, how would you be able to bring about a change in her/his attitude towards food?
Answer : I would like to use the concept of cognitive dissonance proposed by Leon Festinger to bring about a change in her/his attitude towards food.
The basic idea is that the cognitive components of an attitude must be ‘consonant’ (opposite of ‘dissonant’), i.e., they should be logically in line with each other. If an individual finds that two cognitions in an attitude are dissonant, then one of them will be changed in the direction of consonance.
Here the cognitions are:
(i) Junk food is bad for health.
(ii) He/she eats too much junk food.
Holding these two ideas or cognitions will make him feel that something is ‘out of tune’, or dissonant, in the attitude towards junk food. Therefore, one of these ideas will have to be changed, so that consonance can be attained. In order to remove or reduce the dissonance, my friend must stop eating too much junk foods (change Cognition II). This would be the healthy, logical and sensible way of reducing dissonance.