April 16, 2014

Homework Help: Psychology

Posted by Cathy on Monday, October 4, 2010 at 2:31am.


Please can you review my essay, I would appreciate any critisms

In 1935 Allport claimed that “the concept of attitude is probably the most distinctive and indispensable concept in contemporary American social psychology”. (Allport, 1935) Attitudes are a major study in social psychology. Attitudes are versions of the world that are constructed by people in the course of their interactions with others. Social relationships play a huge role in defining behaviour, attitudes, feelings and thoughts. As people we seek to understand and predict events in the social world in order to satisfy our desire and needs. This essay will discuss the following 3 approaches, attitude, social representation and discursive psychology. Furthermore, after a concise review of the three approaches, one of the three approaches will be used to integrate three attitudes. A brief explanation will be given as to why this particular approach was chosen and it will also discuss the shortcoming of this approach.
The attitude approach mainly focuses on the individual’s response to a particular object or situation. (Howarth, Foster and Dorrer, 2004; Jodelet, 1991) Furthermore it is considered to be an evaluation of people, objects and ideas. It contains the following elements: emotional reactions, thoughts, beliefs and actions. Attitudes are represented in memory and it has a tendency to respond to something either favourably or unfavourably. Attitudes are learned from other people and are often the defining characteristic of groups. There are three components of attitude, cognitive, behavioural and effective. These components are often referred to as the “ABC” of attitude. The components describe how we feel, behave and understand each other. (Potter, 1996)
Social representations and attitude are incompatible entities. Social representations exist outside the individual as well as in the mind of the individual. Social representations emerge as the product of values, ideas and practices while individuals are trying to make sense of their physical and social environment. (Moscovici, S, 1984). They are formed in the course of inter-individual communication and collaboration. Social representation is found in talk, text and practices. It is a constructionist approach because it looks at the construction of something in order to make sense of it. Social representation turns the unfamiliar into familiar by means of two processes known as anchoring and objectification. (Potter, 1996)
Discursive psychology is concerned with the study of linguistics. Its main concern is how people construct their identities through speaking interactions (discourse) with others. It shifts the focus away from individuals towards interactions between individuals and groups. (Oktar, 2001) (Howarth, C; Foster, J; Dorrer, N;, 2004) (Jodelet, 1991) It can be said that we actively build our identities for ourselves based upon interactions with other people. It is beneficial for understanding the way people use language to get a point across. It is a constructionist perspective. Discursive psychology consists of three basic elements, construction; action and rhetoric. (Potter, Attitudes, Social Representations and Discursive Psychology, 1996; Potter, Attitudes, Social Representations and Discursive Psychology, 1996)
The approach that was chosen for this essay is the Social Representation approach. The reason why this approach was chosen is because social representations have to do with the interactive dynamic relationships between social knowledge, common identities and social practices. (Howarth, C; Foster, J; Dorrer, N;, 2004) Social representations can be considered to be social because it is shared by many individuals. It therefore creates a social reality which can influence individual behaviour. Social representations theory is also seen as a way of re-socialising psychological views as it brings into focus the role of history, ideology and communication within the psychological domain. (Moscovici, 1972; Oktar, 2001) Social representation also focuses on issues of beliefs, participation and transformation and therefore has the potential of being critical. (Campbell & Jovchelovitch, 2000) The attitudes which will be integrated with this approach are racism, ethnicity and gender.
Different cultures attach different labels to the different sexes. Robbins and Odendaal particularly refer to aspects such as assertiveness, wealth and material things. (Robbins & Odendaal, 2003) In society men and women are expected to behave differently in social situations because of the expectations that society puts upon them. In occupations women are expected to take lower positions of power and are also expected to take on more domestic tasks. In contrast, men are expected to perform more DIY duties and are seen as the breadwinner of the family. This is a result of the social representations that are formed during interactions and dialogues between social knowledge and social practices. (Howarth, C; Foster, J; Dorrer, N;, 2004) The differences in gender are also presented by the way that magazines, television and advertisements portray men and women. Women are portrayed as being fragile and delicate whereas men are portrayed as being strong and masculine. Social representations can assist with the recognition of differences in behaviours, beliefs and needs. They take shape in interactions and dialogue with others and are manifested in the world.

The practice of radicalisation is found in how people communicate in talking, in text and practices rather than in what people say when asked about race or racism. (Howarth, 2004) When people are categorised according to the colour of their skin, culture, or gender it increases tension. However, one needs to understand the social representation that a particular person holds in order to understand why someone reacts in a particular way. With the establishment of total equality, previously disadvantaged people can receive more ‘advantages’ than those who were considered as previously advantaged. Therefore social representation can be seen as the acknowledgement of the rights on equality and human dignity. Affirmative action is another example of a social representation as it attempts to redress the past injustices for certain protected groups of people.

However, currently in South Africa not everyone is free because there are vast differences between races. If an individual enjoys freedom the person will have the right to choose what to do, whereas the person who does not enjoy this will be inferior and not enjoy total freedom. If the present state of social representation is considered in South Africa, all citizens should enjoy the freedom to study, work and be part of society without certain race groups restricting certain categories of people.

According to Moscovici, social representations are a set of values, beliefs and practices that is shared among members of a group or community. (Moscovici, S, 1984) Ethnicity can be defined as a shared cultural heritage. These shared cultural practices, perspectives and distinctions set them apart. Ethnic groups share common characteristics such as history, language, religion and a certain dress code. Ethnic groups can be considered minorities when they are living in a foreign country, for example the Zimbabweans’ living in South Africa. Although they have a sense of belonging together, they can feel isolated from the rest of society. However, social representations enable communication to take place amongst the ethnic minorities and the local community because it provides a code for social exchange. (Howarth, C; Foster, J; Dorrer, N;, 2004) It also provides a code for naming and classifying the various aspects of their worlds and group history. (Moscovici, S, 1973) Managing social representation appropriately implies the recognition of differences as well as recognising different behaviours, beliefs and needs that will benefit society and individuals’ own sense of achievement and success.

However social representation can cause tension between diverse cultures as they undermine minorities. In addition, the representative character of social representation does not accommodate diversity. Social representation is often the cause of poor relationships between different cultures and genders. Another critique is that social representations cannot be formed by an individual in isolation, there has to be interaction. Furthermore, a particular social representation or a particular set of values cannot always account for the individual’s thoughts or actions.

Human societies are visibly different, as they are physically different: different in their skin colour, their language, their backgrounds, their politics and their family status. These differences are prominent in everyday life it is in every workplace, as people go through a lot of trouble to emphasise their differences by means of distinguishing markers such as tattoos, hairstyle and clothing. People we are constantly seeking connectedness or belonging. Furthermore, they also seek to understand and predict events in the social world to be able to satisfy their desires and needs. In conclusion, in this essay three approaches of social psychology was discussed and one of the approaches was integrated in an attempt to understand and explain the above.

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