Table of Contents
Clashing Views in Social Psychology, Third Edition
Unit 1 General Issues in Social Psychology
- Issue 1. Is Deception of Human Participants Ethical?
YES: Alan C. Elms, from Keeping Deception Honest: Justifying Conditions for Social Scientific Research Stratagems, in T. L. Beauchamp, R. R. Faden, R. J. Wallace, & L. Walters, eds., Ethical Issues in Social Science Research (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982)
NO: Diana Baumrind, from Research Using Intentional Deception, American Psychologist (vol. 40, 1985)
Social psychologist Alan Elms argues that deception is usually justified when the benefits of research outweigh the ethical costs of the deception. Psychologist Diana Baumrind believes that deception is never ethically acceptable. The costs of deception seem to be greater than most social psychologists believe.
- Issue 2. Should Social Psychologists Try to Solve Social Problems?
YES: Arthur Aron and Elaine Aron, from Chutzpah: Social Psychology Takes on the Big Issues, The Heart of Social Psychology (Lexington Books, 1989)
NO: David Kipnis, from Accounting for the Use of Behavior Technologies in Social Psychology, American Psychology (vol. 49, 1994)
Arthur and Elaine Aron believe that social psychologists are passionately devoted to promoting positive social change. David Kipnis argues that social psychological research benefits those with power and serves to perpetuate the status quo.
- Issue 3. Can Experimental Social Psychology and Social Constructionism Coexist?
YES: John T. Jost and Arie Kruglanski, from The Estrangement of Social Constructionism and Experimental Social Psychology: History of the Rift and the Prospects for Reconciliation, Personality and Social Psychology Review (August 2002)
NO: Jonathan Potter, from Experimenting with Reconciliation: A Comment on Jost and Kruglanski, Personality and Social Psychology Review (August 2002)
Psychologists John Jost and Arie Kruglanski argue that the differences between experimental social psychology and social constructionism are not nearly as great as most believe. They believe that the two approaches are complementary, not contradictory, and that social psychology would benefit from a more balanced integration of both perspectives. Social constructionist theorist Jonathan Potter agrees that the lack of engagement between the two perspectives has been counterproductive. However, he believes that some experimental psychologists have unfairly labeled the social constructionist approach as anti-science and that true reconciliation between the different approaches is unlikely.
Unit 2 Social Cognition
- Issue 4. Are Our Social Perceptions Often Inaccurate?
YES: Lee Ross and Richard E. Nisbett, from The Person and the Situation: Perspectives of Social Psychology (McGraw-Hill, 1991)
NO: David C. Funder, from Errors and Mistakes: Evaluating the Accuracy of Social Judgment, Psychological Bulletin (vol. 101, 1987)
Social psychologists Lee Ross and Richard Nisbett believe that peoples perceptions of others are often inaccurate because of the dispositionalist biasthe tendency for people to mistakenly believe that the behavior of others is due largely to their personality or disposition. David C. Funder, a personality psychologist, believes that the artificial laboratory experiments cited by Ross and Nisbett do not necessarily indicate that peoples perceptions in the real world are often mistaken. In the real world, peoples behavior is often due to their disposition.
- Issue 5. Does Cognitive Dissonance Explain Why Behavior Can Change Attitudes?
YES: Leon Festinger and James M. Carlsmith, from Cognitive Consequences of Forced Compliance, The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology (vol. 58, 1959)
NO: Daryl J. Bem, from Self-Perception: An Alternative Interpretation of Cognitive Dissonance Phenomena, Psychological Review (May 1967)
Social psychologists Leon Festinger and James M. Carlsmith propose their theory of cognitive dissonance to explain why peoples attitudes may change after they have acted in a way that is inconsistent with their true attitudes. Social psychologist Daryl J. Bem proposes a theory of self-perception, which he believes can explain Festinger and Carlsmiths results better than cognitive dissonance theory.
- Issue 6. Are Self-Esteem Programs Misguided?
YES: Roy F. Baumeister, from Should Schools Try to Boost Self-Esteem? American Educator (Summer 1996)
NO: William Swan Jr., Christine Chang-Schneider, and Katie Larsen McClarty, from Do Peoples Self-Views Matter? Self-Concept and Self-Esteem in Everyday Life, American Psychologist (February/March 2007)
Social psychologist Roy Baumiester argues that self-esteem generally has little or no influence on most important outcomes and that excessively high self-esteem can sometimes have negative consequences. Psychologists William Swan, Christine Chang-Schneider, and Katie McClarty argue that self-esteem is associated with important outcomes. Although some advocates of self-esteem improvement programs have overstated the importance of having a positive self-image, programs designed to raise self-esteem still appear to have beneficial effects.
- Issue 7. Can People Accurately Detect Lies?
YES: Paul Ekman, Maureen OSullivan, & Mark G. Frank, from A Few Can Catch a Liar, Psychological Science (May 1999)
NO: Bella DePaulo, Spotting Lies: Can Humans Learn to Do Better, from Current Directions in Psychological Science (June 1994)
Paul Ekman, Maureen OSullivan, and Mark Frank discuss the evidence that suggests that some individuals are reliable lie detectors. While the average person is not very good at detecting lies, some individuals seem to be able to detect deception quite well. Social Psychologist Bella DePaulo agrees that the average person is not a very reliable lie detector. However, DePaulo believes that improving peoples lie detection skills is not as straightforward as it may seem.
- Issue 8. Are Repressed Memories Real?
YES: Richard P. Kluft, from The Argument for the Reality of Delayed Recall of Trauma, in Paul S. Applebaum, Lisa A. Uyehara, and Mark R. Elin, eds., Trauma and Memory: Clinical and Legal Controversies (Oxford University Press, 1997)
NO: Elizabeth F. Loftus, from Creating False Memories, Scientific American (September 1997)
Psychiatrist Richard Kluft believes that repressed and recovered memories are real and often reflect real instances of trauma and abuse. Cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus argues that false memories can be created with surprising ease. As a result, many repressed and recovered memories may not reflect real traumatic or abusive events.
- Issue 9. Do Positive Illusions Lead to Healthy Behavior?
YES: Shelley E. Taylor and Jonathon D. Brown, from Illusion and Well-Being: A Social Psychological Perspective on Mental Health, Psychological Bulletin (March 1988)
NO: C. Randall Colvin, Jack Block, and David C. Funder, from Overly Positive Self-Evaluations and Personality: Negative Implications for Mental Health, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (June 1995)
Shelley Taylor and Jonathon Brown argue that people have unrealistically positive views of themselves. These positive illusions promote psychological well-being. C. Randall Colvin, Jack Block, and David Funder agree that many people have positive views of themselves. However, these positive self-views should not necessarily be considered illusory.
Unit 3 Social Influence
- Issue 10. Do Milgrams Obedience Experiments Help Explain the Nature of the Holocaust?
YES: John P. Sabini and Maury Silver, in Survivors, Victims and Perpetrators: Essays on the Nazi Holocaust (Hemisphere Publishing, 1980)
NO: Florence R. Miale and Michael Selzer, from The Nuremberg Mind (Quadrangle/New York Times Book Company, 1975)
Social psychologists John P. Sabini and Maury Silver believe that the Obedience Experiments captured the most important psychological aspects of the Holocaust, by demonstrating that normal people can be made to harm others with alarming ease. Psychotherapist Florence R. Miale and political scientist Michael Selzer believe that Milgrams results are not as convincing as is often believed. They contend that the findings of these controversial experiments can be explained by individual differences in participants willingness to inflict pain on others.
- Issue 11. Does the Stanford Prison Experiment Help Explain the Effects of Imprisonment?
YES: Craig Haney and Philip Zimbardo, from The Past and Future of U.S. Prison Policy: Twenty-Five Years after the Stanford Prison Experiment, American Psychologist ( July 1998)
NO: David T. Lykken, from Psychology and the Criminal Justice System: A Reply to Haney and Zimbardo, The General Psychologist (Spring 2000)
Social psychologists Craig Haney and Philip Zimbardo believe that the results of the Stanford Prison Experiment should inform U.S. prison policy. Behavioral geneticist David T. Lykken argues that the experiment was not realistic enough to say anything meaningful about real prison life and that personality factors are more important in determining the behavior of prisoners.
- Issue 12. Is Subliminal Persuasion a Myth?
YES: Anthony R. Pratkanis, from The Cargo-Cult Science of Subliminal Persuasion, Skeptical Inquirer (vol. 16, 1992)
NO: Nicholas Epley, Kenneth Savitsky, and Robert A. Kachelski,from What Every Skeptic Should Know about Subliminal Persuasion, Skeptical Inquirer (vol. 23, 1999)
Social psychologist Anthony Pratkanis argues that research claiming to demonstrate the efficacy of subliminal persuasion is either fraudulent or flawed. Carefully controlled experiments do not demonstrate that subliminal persuasion can have any effect on behavior. Nicholas Epley, Kenneth Savitsky, and Robert Kachelski agree that much of the research examining subliminal persuasion is flawed. However, more recent research using better methodologies has demonstrated that subliminal stimuli can influence behavior.
- Issue 13. Can People Really Be Brainwashed?
YES: Trudy Solomon,from Programming and Deprogramming the Moonies: Social Psychology Applied, The Brainwashing/Deprogramming Controversy (Edwin Mellen Press, 1983)
NO: James T. Richardson,from A Social Psychological Critique of Brainwashing Claims about Recruitment to New Religions, The Handbook of Cults and Sects in America (JAI Press, 1993)
Psychologist Trudy Solomon argues that well-known social-psychological principles may explain the process by which brainwashing can occur. Also, Solomon argues that some religious movements, generally referred to as cults, use these principles to recruit new members. Sociologist James T. Richardson believes that social psychological principles do not necessarily suggest that brainwashing is commonly used in new religious movements. Instead he believes that these organizations use the same recruitment tactics used by many organizations and therefore cannot be considered brainwashing.
Unit 4 International Society for Research On Aggression
- Issue 14. Is Stereotyping Inevitable?
YES: Patricia G. Devine, from Stereotypes and Prejudice: Their Automatic and Controlled Components, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (January 1989)
NO: Lorella Lepore and Rupert Brown, from Category and Stereotype Activation: Is Prejudice Inevitable? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (February 1997)
Social psychologist Patricia G. Devine argues that some forms of racial stereotyping may be automatic and therefore inevitable. In order to prevent these automatic stereotypes from biasing judgments of others, whites must make a conscious effort to avoid responding in a prejudicial manner. Social psychologists Lorella Lepore and Rupert Brown believe that automatic stereotyping may not be universal among whites. Some whites may be more likely to engage in automatic stereotyping than others, and as a result stereotyping is not necessarily inevitable among all whites.
- Issue 15. Does the Implicit Association Test (IAT) Measure Racial Prejudice?
YES: Shankar Vedantam, from See No Bias, The Washington Post (January 23, 2005).
NO: Amy Wax and Philip E. Tetlock, from We Are All Racists At Heart, The Wall Street Journal (December 1, 2005)
The performance of most white Americans on the Implicit Association Test reflects hidden or implicit racial prejudice. Since implicit prejudice can result in discriminatory behavior toward African Americans, it is appropriate to consider scores on the Implicit Association Test to be a form of racial prejudice. Most white Americans are aware of the negative stereotypes of African Americans that exist in American society, even though they may not believe those stereotypes to be true. So the performance of whites on the Implicit Association Test likely reflects their knowledge of these negative stereotypes, rather than true racial prejudice.
- Issue 16. Can Stereotypes Lead to Accurate Perceptions of Others?
YES: Lee J. Jussim, Clark R. McCauley, and Yueh-Ting Lee, from Why Study Stereotype Accuracy and Inaccuracy? Stereotype Accuracy: Toward Appreciating Group Differences (APA, 1995)
NO: Charles Stangor, from Content and Application Inaccuracy in Social Stereotyping, Stereotype Accuracy: Toward Appreciating Group Differences (APA, 1995)
Lee Jussim, Clark McCauley, and Yueh-Ting Lee believe that stereotypes have been stereotyped. Stereotypes are not always inaccurate and do not invariably lead to biased judgments of others, as most social psychologists seem to believe. Charles Stangor draws a distinction between the content accuracy and application accuracy in the use of stereotypes. According to Stangor, even if the content of a stereotype is accurate, applying the stereotype to judge an individual within a group is still likely to yield inaccurate perceptions.
- Issue 17. Does True Altruism Exist?
YES: C. Daniel Batson, Bruce D. Duncan, Paula Ackerman, Terese Buckley, and Kimberly Birch, from Is Empathic Emotion a Source of Altruistic Motivation? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (February 1981)
NO: Robert B. Cialdini, Mark Schaller, Donald Houlihan, Kevin Arps, Jim Fultz, and Arthur L. Beaman, from Empathy-Based Helping: Is It Selflessly or Selfishly Motivated? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (April 1987)
Social psychologist C. Daniel Batson and his colleagues believe that people sometimes help for purely altruistic reasons. He proposes that empathy is the key factor responsible for altruism and describes the results of an experiment that supports his position. Social psychologist Robert Cialdini and his colleagues are not convinced that empathy alone can motivate helping. Instead they propose that people often help others in order to make themselves feel better.
- Issue 18. Does Media Violence Cause Aggression?
YES: Brad J. Bushman and Craig A. Anderson, from Media Violence and the American Public: Scientific Facts Versus Media Misinformation, American Psychologist ( June/July 2001)
NO: Jonathan L. Freedman, from Media Violence and Aggression (University of Toronto Press, 2002)
Brad Bushman and Craig Anderson contend that an overwhelming amount of research indicates that media violence is a significant cause of violent and aggressive behavior. Despite this overwhelming evidence, media corporations irresponsibly downplay the impact that media violence may have. Jonathan Freedman argues that the evidence linking aggression to media violence is not as strong as it is believed to be. Psychologists who contend that such a link has been proven are misunderstanding or misrepresenting what the data actually indicate.