Poverty and Discrimination:
Some experts define poverty mainly in economic terms and measure it in terms of incomes, nutrition (the daily caloric intake per person), and the amount spent on basic necessities of life such as food, clothing and shelter.
From the socio-psychological point of view, the most commonly accepted definition of poverty is that it is a condition in which there is a lack of necessities of life in the context of : unequal distribution of wealth in society. <
A distinction between deprivation and poverty is that deprivation refers to the state in which a person feels that he/she has lost something valuable, and is not getting something what he/she deserves. In deprivation, it is more a question of perceiving or thinking that one has less than what one should have got.
Poverty refers to an actual shortage of the resources necessary for living, and thus can be somewhat objectively defined. .
Thus, a poor person may experience deprivation, but poverty is not a necessary condition for experiencing deprivation.
Both poverty and deprivation are linked to social disadvantage. In our society, the caste system has been largely the source of social disadvantages, but poverty, irrespective of cast, has also played a role in creating social disadvantage.
In the context of poverty, discrimination refers to the behaviour that makes a distinction between the rich and the poor, favouring the rich and the advantaged over the poor and the disadvantaged, e.g., matters of social interaction, education and employment.
Thus, even if the poor or disadvantaged have the capability, they are kept away from opportunities that are enjoyed by the rest of society.
The children of the poor do not get a chance to study in good school, or get good health facilities, and employment.
Disadvantage and discrimination prevent the poor from improving their socio-economic condition through their own efforts, and this makes the poor even poorer.
Psychological Characteristics and Effects of Poverty and Deprivation.
In terms of motivation, the poor have law aspirations and low achievement motivation, and high need for dependence. Eth explain their successes in terms of luck or fate rather than ability of hard work. In general, they believe that events in their lives are controlled by factors outside them, rather than within them.
With regard to personality, the poor and deprived have low self-esteem, high anxiety and introversion, and dwell on the immediate present rather than being future-oriented. They prefer smaller immediate rewards to larger rewards in the long run, because in their perception,
the future is too uncertain. They live with a sense of hopelessness, powerlessness, felt injustice, and experience a loss of identity.
With respect to social behaviour, the poor and deprived sections exhibit and attitude of resentment towards the rest of society.
Among the effects of prolonged deprivation on cognitive functioning, it has been found that intellectual, functioning and performance on tasks (such as classification, verbal reasoning, time perception, and pictorial depth perception) is lower among the highly deprived compared to those who are less deprived. It has also been certified that the
: effect of deprivation is because the nature of the environment is cognitive task performance.
With regard to mental health, there is an unquestionable relationship between mental 1 disorders and poverty or deprivation. The poor are more likely to suffer from specific mental
1 illness compared to the rich, possible due to constant worry about basic necessities, feelings of
insecurity, or inability to get medical facilities, especially for mental illness. In fact, it has been suggested that depression may be a mental disorder largely of the poor.
Major Causes of Poverty:
Poverty is sometimes caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and cyclones,
or man-made disasters such as poisonous gas leaks. When such events take place, people
suddenly lose all their possessions and have to face poverty.
Similarly, one generation of.the poor may be unable to eradicate their poverty, and the next generation continues to remain in poverty. Apart from these causes, other factors responsible for poverty have been mentioned below:
Several steps are being taken by the government and other groups to work towards alleviation or reduction of poverty and its negative consequences.
Another way is through small loans or micro-credit facilities. The facility is similar to the idea of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.
Following the 73rd amendment of the Constitution, the aim is to give more power to people for their development through decentralized planning, and through people’s participation. Action Aid, an international group. Has goals of making the poor more sensitive to their rights, to equality and justice, and ensuring for them adequate nutrition, health, and facilities for education and employment.
Aggression, Violence and Peace:
Aggression and violence are among the major problems in today’s society, and they cover a wide range of behaviours—from ragging of newcomers in educational institutes, through child abuse ect.
Psychologists use the term ‘aggression’ to refer to any behaviour by one person/persons that intend to cause harm to another person/persons. It can be demonstrated in actual action or through the use of harsh words or criticism, or even hostile feelings against others.
Forceful destructive behaviour towards another person or object is described as ‘violence’.
Some psychologists distinguish aggression from violence by pointing out that the aggressive behaviour involves the intention to harm or injure another person, whereas violence may or may not involve such an intention.
A distinction is also made between instrumental aggression and hostile aggression.
In instrumental aggression, the act of aggression is meant to obtain a certain goal or object.
Hostile aggression is that which is shown as an expression of ranger towards the target, with the intention of harming him/her, even if the aggressor does not wish to obtain anything from the victim.
Causes of Aggression:
Inborn Tendency: Aggressiveness is an tendency among human being (as it is in animals). Biologically, this inborn tendency may be meant for self-defense.
Physiological Mechanism: Aggression could also be indirectly triggered by physiological mechanisms, especially by the activation of certain parts of the brain that play a role in emotional experience. A general physiological state of arousal, or feeling activated, might often be expressed in the form of aggression.
Child-rearing: The way an individual is brought up often influences him/her aggressiveness. It could also be because physical punishment makes the child angry and resentful; as the child grows up he/she expresses this anger through aggressive behaviour.
Frustration: Aggression is an expression, and consequence of frustration, i.e., an emotional state that arises when a person is prevented from reaching a goal, or attaining an object that he/she wants. The person.may be very close to the goal, and yet does not attain it.
An American psychologist, John Dollard, along with his collaborators, conducted research specially to examine the frustration-aggression theory. Theory proposes that it is frustration that leads to aggression. As expected, frustrated persons did demonstrate more aggression than non-frustrated persons.
Moreover, such aggression was often shown towards a weaker person who was unlikely, or unable to react to aggression. This phenomenon has been called displacement. Observations showed that:
Being frustrated does not necessarily make a person aggressive.
Many other situational factors may lead to aggression. .
Learning: Among human beings, aggression is largely the result of learning than an expression of an inborn tendency.
Learning of aggression can take place in more than one mode. Individuals may exhibit aggression because they have found it rewarding (for example, hostile aggression allows the aggressive person to get what he/she wants). This would be case of learning through direct reinforcement. Individuals also learn to be aggressive by observing others showing aggression. This is case of learning through modelling.
Observing an Aggressive Model: Many research studies conducted by psychologists such as Albert Bandura and his collaborators shows the role of modelling in learning aggression. In studies that tested the frustration-aggression theory, provoking the person and making him/ her angry was one way of including frustration.
Anger provoking action by others: Insults, threats, physical aggression, sarcasm, derogatory remarks or dishonesty by a person or persons may provoke an individual to react aggressively.
Frustration-aggression theory by Dollard and Miller also confirm this phenomenon. Availability of Weapons of Aggression: Some researchers have found that observing violence leads to a greater likelihood of aggression on the part of the observation only if weapons of aggression are easily available.
Personality Factors: We may conclude that aggressiveness is thus a personal quality. It has been observed that the people, who have very low self-esteem and feel insecure, may behave aggressively in order to ‘boost their ego’.
Cultural Factors: The culture in which one grows up can teach its members to be aggressive or not by encouraging and praising aggressive behaviour, or discouraging and criticizing such behaviour.
Reducing Aggression and Violence.
Parents and teachers should especially be careful not to encourage or reward aggression in any form.
The use of punishment to bring about discipline also needs to be changed.
Opportunities to observe and imitate the behaviour of aggressive models should be reduced drastically.
Poverty and social injustice may be a prominent cause of aggression, because they can cause frustration in certain section of society. Implementing social justice and equality in society may help in reducing frustration levels and thereby curb aggressive tendencies at least to some extent.
Apart from these strategies, at the level of the community or society, it is important to inculcate a positive attitude towards peace.
It is now conceded that various health outcomes are not only a function of disease but the way we think and behave.
This definition of ‘health’ is provided by the World Health Organization (WHO). Which includes biological, psychological and social aspects of health.
One may be suffering from a physical disabling disease but may be quite healthy otherwise. e.g., Baba Amte or Stephen Hawkins.
We also find that people differ across cultures in their thinking about when and how people fall ill and, therefore, in the models which they use in prevention of diseases and promotion of health.
There are traditional cultures like Chines, Indian, and Latin American which hold that good health results from the harmonious balance of various elements in the body, and ill- health results when such a balance is lost.
On the contrary, the western cultures view health as a result of fully functioning machine which has no blockage.’’
The World Health Reports by the WHO shows that in developing countries such as Asia, Africa, and Latin America, more die due to communicable diseases including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) malaria, respiratory infections and nutritional deficiencies. In the developed countries, the leading causes of death are various cardiovascular diseases, cancers and psychiatric disorders. Such differences may be explained in terms of how these societies are economically and socially structured and their psychological underpinnings.
Factors associated with Well-being and Fitness:
(a) The variations in seeking help are due to differences in mental representations people make relating tp disease, its severity and the causes of disease.
(b) The level of awareness or information about disease and belief about how it is caused; and about possible ways of relieving the distress or improving health affect help-seeking behaviour as well as sticking to a doctor’s regimen.
(c) Another factor which influences our help-seeking from a doctor is the perception of pain, which is a function of personality, anxiety and social norms.
(a) Psychologists have found strong evidence which shows that behaviours we engage in our life, styles greatly influence health.
(b) People differ greatly in terms of such behavioural risk factors as smoking or tobacco use, alcohol and drug abuse, and unsafe sexual behaviour, diet and physical exercise.
(c) A new discipline called Behaviour Medicine has emerged, which seeks to alleviate stress due to diseases through modification in behaviour.
3. Social and Cultural Factors:
(a) There is now a growing body of research which shows that social and cultural differences may influence our psychological responses, and may not be the same across all cultures.
(b) While interaction between culture and psychological responses requires more
evidence, social and cultural norms associated with roles and gender, etc. greatly influence our health behaviour.
(c) In Indian society, medical advice by or for a female is often delayed because of various reasons—they are less valued, or because of the belief that they are hardy, or the shame associated with the disease.
Impact of Television on Behaviour.
Words That Matter