Sunday, 19 August 2012

Sociology and Psychology stuff from the week 13-19/8/12

Factionalism exacerbates social prejudice.
'Giving to charity: Why do we donate more money to individuals when they are members of a group?'
In general, people give less to charities when motivated by thoughts of groups than thoughts of individuals (because they fail to cognise the reality of many people - but are capable of cognising just one).
{Oh, the number of times i've seen/heard someone say - "but they're not just statistics - you're reducing them to statistics", and "what's the human story behind this?" Er.. durr... the humanity is compound -- but most people aren't rational enough to realise that. A stat of a million dead people is a million times as bad as a stat of one dead person.}
But when giving to groups, opinions about those groups influences the amount given - favourable bias leads to bigger donations, disfavourable bias leads to smaller donations.

Game Theory - on factionalism:
'Study shows increased aggression between evenly matched teams'
If you're obviously going to lose, then you won't put much effort in, and so neither will the side that eventually wins.
If your factions are evenly matched, then they will fight exuberantly, believing themselves to have a 'decent chance'.
I'm thinking of all the wars that have raged ebulliently, with both sides confidently claiming the same god(s). You can't get more evenly matched than that!

Game Theory - on self-confidence:
"falsely believing one is better than others has profound social benefits for the individual."
In a culture of 'everybody fighting to get to the top', individuals who have higher opinions of themselves than are actually warranted, are given an advantage.
Oh - the number of people i've seen get positions in which they are completely feckless, and everyone stands around wondering how, and/or self-deceiving with "well, i suppose anyone else would have been worse"
"these findings suggest one reason why in organizational settings, incompetent people are so often promoted over their more competent peers. "In organizations, people are very easily swayed by others' confidence even when that confidence is unjustified," says Anderson. "Displays of confidence are given an inordinate amount of weight."
And here's where the culture plays an important part:
"It is important to note that group members did not think of their high status peers as overconfident, but simply that they were terrific. "This overconfidence did not come across as narcissistic," explains Anderson. "The most overconfident people were considered the most beloved"."

'College students lose respect for peers who hook up too much'
Students who are, or at least appear to be, highly promiscuous, are subject to greater negative opinion as a result of doing so.
Also, the metaphorical playing field seems to be evening out, between males and females.
"gender equality and sexual liberation are not synonymous. While we've come a long way in terms of gender equality, it seems that a large portion of both college men and women lose respect for individuals who they believe participate in too frequent casual sexual activity."
But we must remember that the survey asked "too much" - so we don't know what numbers would be classified by them as excessive. If "too much" means 1 person per month for a woman, and 7 for a man, then that's hardly equality!

The "human cost" of emotionalism -- fear of nuclear radiation, rather than the actual effect:
Despite exposure of less than 1 milli-Sievert in all but one resident (hundreds of mSv-s are necessary to notice negative effects), the social exclusion experienced by workers at the Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants *is* having negative health consequences - for the workers.
They have showed higher incidence of stress events, and higher psychological stress overall.
1495 of the 1760 workers at both plants reported back to the researchers, with accounts of prejudice and relational aggression, manifesting in noticeable PTSD symptoms.

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