HSP3M Grade 11 Anthropology – Psychology and Socialization

Section 8.1—Influences of Others on Self

Psychology and Socialization

  • socialization begins as soon as a newborn baby bonds with his/her parents, and this continues throughout life
  • according to social learning theory, children learn social behaviours by observing and intimidating the behaviours of those around them, and these behaviours are reinforced by rewards/punishment
  • as primary agents of socialization, parents need to teach their child appropriate social skills at each stage of childhood


Socialization and Emotional Development

  • for many children, effective socialization is linked to fewer problems throughout their school years and beyond (they develop friendships more easily, and have a stronger sense of identity)
    • these children also have a greater understanding of their emotions and how to deal with them
  • psychologists believe that there are specific social skills that children learn as they age:


Social Development Needs from Birth to 12 Years
Age Developmental Milestones
Birth to 6 months Develop Trust—makes eye contact and begin smiling to primary caregiver/familiar people
6 to 18 months Explores Self, Feelings, and Surroundings—crawl away from parents, plays with others, communicates needs by pointing
18 to 36 months Begin to Develop Perspective—have vocabulary of about 200 words, plays with others, understands that others have different opinions than them
3 to 5 years Develops a Sense of Purpose—continue to have curiosity and imagination, plays competitive games, develops sense of right and wrong
6 to 12 years Develops Self-Confidence—expands social environment, picks up social cues from others, works cooperatively, learns to cope with mistakes



Importance of Play in Childhood Development

  • parents often assume it is important for their child to spend a lot of time with others their own age in order to socialize
  • while some social time with peers (play dates) to develop preschool social skills is healthy, early socialization should be mainly from parents/guardians
    • these adults have a wealth of social and emotional resources that the child’s peers don’t have (ex: ability to describe emotions verbally, interpret emotions of others, predict long-term consequences)
  • modelling and explaining behaviour is a positive way that parents help their child develop the necessary social skills
  • a child who doesn’t have siblings may develop social skills differently than those who do have siblings (at least in early years of life)
    • only children seems to have fewer social skills when he/she enters kindergarten
      • in a study, it shows that eventually in time,, only children catch up in social skills by adolescence


Social Isolation and Emotional Development

  • some children feel socially isolated (or set apart from others to the point they have little social interaction)
  • social isolation can be due to poor social development, shyness, or prolonged illness
  • isolated children can experience some of these problems:
    • academic difficulties (inattentiveness, failure)
    • behavioural difficulties (delinquency, aggression, substance abuse)
    • emotional difficulties (peer rejection, isolation, stress)
    • psychological difficulties (memory loss, anxiety, depression)
  • in recent years, cases of extreme aggression based on social isolation have shocked Canadians
    • in 1999, Colorado’s Columbine High School, and Alberta’s W.R. Myers High School were victims of shooting carried out by socially isolated individuals who were bullied by their peers
    • in 1989, females were targeted at Quebec’s École Polytechnique
    • usually, very few individuals respond to social isolation through shooting
  • social isolation can lead to aggression and anxiety, which are caused by the activation of neurons that lead to amygdala (the part of the brain that regulates emotion)
    • research shows that social isolation may be due to a resulting change in a hormone of the brain
      • in a lab study, those who were isolated had 50% less of a hormone that decreased the effects of stress
    • aggressive behaviour and anxiety may occur because of the hormone missing to regulate aggression
  • effective programs exist for children identified as having difficulties with social skills—they include social skills training, exposure to different socializations,
    • the training includes weekly sessions where children learn how to start/maintain conversations, join groups, cooperate with others, solve problems, and greet others


The Effect of Media on Socialization

  • electronic media (TV, cell phones, digital media like video games, social media) are part of life for many Canadian adolescents
    • when children are watching TV/playing video games, they aren’t socializing in traditional ways
  • research shows that those who watch more than 2 hours of TV daily are more likely to have attention span difficulties
  • research has shown the best way for kids to learn language is by interacting with people—several studies have shown that the more a child watches TV, the longer it took them to learn speech
    • since verbal communication is a key to social development, speech is important socialization
  • research also shows that the more a child watches TV, the more likely they`ll develop obesity and poor academic skills in late childhood; they were also more likely to be rejected, victimized, teased, and assaulted by their peers
  • since many teens play video games, these games have the potential to affect the majority of youth—research shows short0term aggression occurs immediately following the playing of violent video games
    • also, teens are actually social when playing video games (multiplayer games for example)


Socialization and Immigration

  • when a family immigrates to a new country, each member goes through a process of socialization
  • cross-cultural psychology is a field of psychological research rooted in anthropology—it focuses on aspects of culture, such as the psychological differences between dominant and subdominant cultures, cultural ideas about intelligence, and the effect of culture and environment on perception
  • the concept of identity/identity-crisis was created by Erik Erikson based on his own immigrant experience; the concept of identity is important to understanding how newcomers establish their sense of self in a new country
  • an individual can have many identities, in which some overlap:
    • ego identity—a conscious sense of self developed through social interactions, which is constantly changing
    • social identity—sense of belonging based on membership in different groups (family, ethnic, occupational) which changes over one’s life
    • national identity—sense of belonging to a specific country and having shared feelings, regardless of country of origin
    • cultural/ethnic identity—a connection to a cultural group that helps define who a person is
  • psychological acculturation is a change in the cultural behaviour and thinking of a person/group of people through contact with another culture
    • basically the meeting of 2 cultures, and the resulting cultural change to each group
      • describes the psychological effects than an individual experiences such as changes in attitude and behaviour that result from acculturation
    • the attitudes of individuals within a dominant and non-dominant (immigrant) cultural group shape how they interact and change one another as a result
    • ways the dominant group influences the range of possible interactions with the non-dominant group
      • the arrows show the behaviours of each group are altered due to their interaction (behavioural shift is a change in behaviour resulting from contact with another culture)


Potential Acculturation Strategies
Non-Dominant Group (Immigrant) Strategies Dominant Group Strategies
  • INTEGRATION—some aspects of the original culture are maintained, but there is participation in the larger culture (wearing the hijab with jeans and a t-shirt)
  • MULTICULTURAL—most individuals accept cultural diversity (society accepts people from all cultures living in the community)
  • SEPARATION—individuals choose to keep their heritage and avoid contact with other cultural groups (living, working, shopping only in Chinatown)
  • SEGREGATION—most individuals demand the separation of newcomers from the dominant group (belief that newcomers from China must live in Chinatown)
  • ASSIMILATION—individuals want to have daily interaction with other cultural groups and leave behind their own cultural heritage (no longer wear the hijab)
  • MELTING POT—most individuals expect newcomers to adapt to the dominant culture (belief that everyone who lives in Canada should have the same attitudes and practices)
  • MARGINALIZATION—individuals may not maintain their cultural heritage and don’t have relationships with others (feeling pressured to carry on Greek heritage, but still feel isolated from others)
  • EXCLUSION—marginalization is imposed by most of the dominant group (forcing others to act as “Canadians”




  • one topic of interest to social psychologists is when and why people choose to conform to groups
    • conformity is the inclination to align your attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours with those around you (ex: wearing and listening to the same music as those around you)
  • psychologist A. Jenness studied conformity in 1932 with having participants guess the number of beans in a glass jar
    • the experiment showed that individuals changed their guess for number of beans when they heard what others in the group thought


Factors That Affect Conformity

  • there are various factors that affect whether an individual will conform:


Factors That Affect Conformity
Factor Influence on Conformity
group size large groups tend to have higher rates of conformity (that rate doesn’t change much after groups reach 4-5 members)
group unanimity when everyone in a group appears to agree, participant conformity is high (even one person voicing disagreement decreases the conformity of participants)
public vs. private response when participants are able to give answers privately, conformity decreases
self-esteem those with lower self-esteem are more likely to conform because they want to belong (people are less likely to conform when they are confident in themselves/their abilities)
ambiguous situation or difficult task when a task is difficult, participants look to others in the group for cues as to how to react, assuming the others will know what to do (the more difficult the task, the greater the conformity)
status of members/group if a group member is knowledgeable (teacher) or has a high status (boss), other participants are more likely to conform to that person’s views

there is more conformity to a group that has a high status also



The Effects of Conformity

  • conformity isn’t always a bad thing—it’s a natural aspect of social interaction (ex: acting the same way as your friends)
  • chameleon effect is the mimicking of the body language of a person whom we are interacting with
    • ex: boys began emulating Justin Bieber’s haircut
    • in an experiment carried out by Tanya Chartrand and John Bargh in 1999, 78 participants interacted with confederates (people who were part of the research team but acted as subjects); when the confederates altered their body language to mimic that of the participants, they scored higher in a survey that measured likeability (we like people more if they act like us)
  • groupthink is used in psychology to explain faulty decisions, largely made by a policy makers in groups; it results in ignoring reasonable alternatives in favour of taking irrational actions
    • conditions that allow groupthink to exist include an isolated,  cohesive group that has a strong leader
  • 8 symptoms of groupthink:
    • illusion of invulnerability that is shared by most/all members, it creates excessive optimism and encourages taking extreme risks
    • collective efforts to rationalize that discounts warning which might lead members to reconsider their assumptions
    • belief in the group’s inherent morality, inclining the members to ignore the ethical/moral consequences of their decisions
    • stereotyped views of enemy leaders—enemy leaders viewed as too evil to warrants genuine attempts to negotiate, or as too weak and stupid to counter whatever risky attempts are made to defeat their purposes
    • direct pressure—member is pressured to not expressing strong arguments against any of the group’s stereotypes, illusions or commitments
    • self-censorship of deviations from the apparent group consensus, reflecting each member’s inclination to minimise to them self the importance of their doubts and counterarguments
    • a shared illusion of unanimity concerning judgements conforming to the majority view
    • the emergence of self-appointed mudguards (members who protect the group from adverse information that might shatter their shared complacency about the effectiveness and morality of their decisions)
  • there are ways to limit the effect of groupthink (ex: inviting experts from outside to group for an opinion; leader of the group should avoid giving their opinion so others can do what they believe is right)


Issues in Youth Conformity

  • in 2006, the alleged terrorist plot of the “Toronto 18” was discovered—18 people had allegedly been recruited Al Qaeda to commit acts of terrorism in Canada
    • there were plots to blow up prominent buildings and to create a large Al Qaeda cell in Toronto, with the aim to create disorder that would scare Canadians into withdrawing troops from Afghanistan
    • the group consisted of mostly young males under the age of 25
      • research shows young men are more likely to join a terrorist group
  • a link between serotonin (chemical messenger in the brain associated with feelings of well being) and social status is one key to why young men are likely to join a terrorist group
    • studies in Rhesus shows that when the monkey’s social status decreases, so does the serotonin levels in the brain
      • this suggests that our need to have status within a group, and thus belong to a group is biological
    • developmental psychology professor points out that the brains of teenage males aren’t fully developed, especially the prefrontal cortex that controls decision making and planning ahead
    • boys are still socialized according to old values of being brave, strong, macho
    • pressure to join a group and conform to its philosophy can sometimes lead young people to make decisions they would otherwise contemplate



  • there are always people who don’t conform to the group/obey authority
  • sense of morality can allow individuals not to conform
    • Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of “Moral Development” states some people will not conform because of their moral beliefs
      • Kohlberg’s theory is loosely based on Piaget’s stages, but move beyond them in scope (in early childhood, morality is related to avoiding punishment/gaining rewards; in the sixth/final stage, individuals no longer base their morality on what is socially acceptable, but on what is moral in principle)
      • people in the last stage of Kohlberg’s theory are not likely to conform to a group that is doing something wrong, because they are guided by their own ethical principles and aren’t seeking approval by the group


The Bystander Effect

  • bystander effect is a concept in psychology used to explain why the larger the number of people in a group, the less likely it is that individuals will stop to help someone in an emergency
  • the bystander effect is also called Genovese syndrome because it is linked to the murder of Kitty Genovese
  • on a New York City night in 1964, Kitty was attacked several times by a stranger while walking to her apartment; the first stabbing was in a stairwell that was clearly visible by neighbouring apartments—a neighbour shouted at the attacker, and he fled
    • Kitty survived the first attack, but the attacker returned 10 minutes later, stabbed her repeatedly, and sexually assaulted her; while she screamed for help, 38 of her neighbours opened their windows and turned on their lights, yet did nothing to stop the attack
      • once the attacker left, someone did call police
  • if an individual sees another person who needs help, he/she is likely to do so
    • however, certain criteria must be met; in order to help someone in an emergency, an individual must:
      • first, notice the incident
      • second, recognize the incident as an emergency
      • lastly, assume responsibility for helping
      • ***an individual is more likely to help if they are the only person who has witnessed the incident
  • if a group of people are present, the following 4 mechanisms may come into play, leading to the bystander effect
    • self-awareness: when an individual feels there is an audience, their actions may be inhibited because of the fear of making a fool of them self in front of others
    • social cues: people look to others for cues of how to behave (if no one acts, it reinforces the notion that no one should act)
    • blocking mechanisms: n an emergency situation where there are a lot of people around, someone stepping in to act (help the victim) can actually block others from doing so
    • diffusion of responsibility: people assume that someone else will help so they don’t have to


Prejudice: A Psychological Perspective

  • prejudice is prejudgement/judgement of someone based on stereotypes and biases



  • 1954 Robbers Cave experiment by Muzafer Sherif that studied the roots of prejudice between 2 groups
    • twenty-two 11 year-old boys were divided into 2 groups at a camp
    • each group bonded during regular camp activities, and created group names and flags, and they were unaware of the other group’s existence
    • when the groups were allowed to find each other, intergroup conflict soon emerged in the form of name calling and singing mean-spirited songs about the other group
    • the experiment demonstrated how quickly and easily individuals identify with a group and create conflict with those outside that group
  • the behaviour of the boys in Sherif’s experiment through:
    • ingroup: a social group formed when its members identify with one another
      • any social group to which an individual feels they belong to
    • outgroup: a social group toward which an individual feels disrespect/opposition; sometimes treated badly by the ingroup
      • any individuals who don’t belong to the social group in which another individual feels they belong to
  • an ingroup is formed when members identify with one another (ex: when your school competes with another, ingroups and outgroups are clearly defined and obvious on the field/arena
    • ingroups don’t necessarily behave in a hostile way toward outgroups (it’s a sense of belonging that bonds them)
    • most individuals belong to many ingroups
  • sometimes hostile behaviour is used to reinforce a group’s identity and sense of belonging; hostility toward outgroups help strengthen an ingroup’s sense of belonging
    • attachment to one group doesn’t necessarily mean hostility toward another
    • however, ingroups require something that differentiates them from other groups that indicates who is “in” and who is “out” (differentiation involves defining who is part of “us” and who is not, thus causing ingroups to therefore imply the existence of outgroups)
    • example: anyone who isn’t part of the basketball team are an outgroup; however this doesn’t mean the team members view others as inferior
  • hate crimes have a great effect on its victims, causing psychological distress (depression, stress, PTSD, anger)
    • hate crimes target people for features of their identity
    • most people who commit hate crimes appear normal, but in fact they are aggressive, anti-social, have a family history of violence/abuse
    • some researchers suggest that perpetrators of hate crimes use the defence mechanism of projection, whereby the unconsciously direct feelings about themselves onto another person to help cope with their own abuse
    • to reduce hate crimes, we need to challenge stereotypes, reduce intergroup conflicts, and encourage understanding and appreciation of other diversities—individuals need to take a stand
  • even when we consciously try not to judge people based on their appearance, our brains do so anyway
    • a study shows our brains need only 38 milliseconds to judge trustworthiness in the faces of those we’ve just met
    • our brains look for 3 things in a person: signs of dominance (violence), strong facial features (anger), and symmetry (attractiveness)
    • our unconscious biases aren’t always trustworthy—in some cases, participants could accurately tell the difference between whether or not someone was lying only 50% of the time



  • scapegoating is the pushing of blame and responsibility away from oneself and onto others
  • a person’s anger and hostility are projected outward at the scapegoat target, leading to an “us vs. them” mentality, which can lead to serious negative consequences
    • the individuals (such as those in an outgroup such as a nation) can be targeted individually or as a whole
  • targeting a scapegoat could be a psychological defence mechanism that protects the perpetrator from feeling unacceptable emotions (honesty and guilt)
  • self-deception could be involved in scapegoating because the accuser denies their own feelings f shame and guilt; since the denial is done unconsciously, it is difficult for the accuser to stop them self from scapegoating


Promoting Heroism

  • Zimbardo (Stanford Prison experiment) is researching heroism, and believes each of us have the potential to be a hero
  • Zimbardo hopes to demystify how people choose to be heroes, so more people can feel as if they can make a positive difference in the lives of those around them
  • Zimbardo believes from his research so far that for children, they need to foster “heroic imaginations” in order for heroism later on in life


Jane Elliot: Brown Eyes/Blue Eyes

  • in 1968, elementary school teacher Jane Elliot conducted an experiment in her classroom in an effort to change the way the kids thought about racism and prejudice
  • in response to Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, she devised a scenario that taught her all-white Grade 3 students about the roots of discrimination and racism by having each student experience it firsthand
  • Elliot’s exercise and the student reunion 14 years later have been documented in the film “A Class Divided”
  • Elliot had 28 kids in her class, and began her lesson by discussing news of the assassination and then moved on to discuss racism and discrimination in general
    • her students understood racism was wrong, but Elliot didn’t want to stop there
  • none of the students in the class ever experienced racism in their all-white community of 898 people, nor did they know much about other races (what they did know was negative, which Elliot presumed was learned from their parents, TV, and radio)
  • Elliot began the experiment by dividing the class into 2 groups based on if the child had brown/blue eyes
    • Elliot told the students that blue-eyed kids were smarter and better than the others (Elliot praised the blue-eyed kids, and gave them privileges like a longer recess and being first in the lunch line)
    • the brown-eyed students were given collars to wear and were disciplined and ridiculed for the smallest of errors
  • after a few days, Elliot switched things around, and made the brown-eyed group the superior ones
  • the results from Elliot’s experiment was astounding—the marvellous, cooperative children turned into nasty, vicious, and discriminating kids
    • Elliot discovered that the children who she told were smarter actually performed better in testing; likewise the children who were wearing the collars performed worse in testing and their behaviour changed
    • Elliot never told the kids how to behave—they subconsciously demonstrated discriminatory behaviour
  • today, Elliot conducts this environment in adult workplaces—results are the same, as people treat those who are seen as inferior in a negative manner


Issues in Mental Illness

  • our social attitudes about mental illness have changed dramatically throughout the last century (ex: we no longer lock our relatives with mental illness in “insane asylums” and forgotten)
  • however, there are still problems that exist which affect the lives of those with mental health concerns


The Stigma of Mental Illness

  • stigma is a belief that leads to social disgrace
  • those who are different from us (ex: outgroups) are sometimes seen in a negative manner
    • this can lead to prejudice and stigma
  • many people who have mental illness are seen as different from the norm, and are stigmatized
  • the consequences of a stigma can be devastating for the victim of it—they can feel fear and face rejection in various areas of their lives; they may have difficulty getting/maintaining a job, and a loss of self-esteem
    • sometimes, these individuals avoid getting help because they feel embarrassed
  • 1 in 5 Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetime, yet the stigma associated with mental illness doesn’t appear to be going away
  • a 2008 survey measured people’s experiences with and attitudes towards the health care system, including mental health:
    • 46% think people use the term mental illness as an excuse for bad behaviour
    • 25% of Canadians are fearful of being around those who suffer serious mental illness
    • 50% of Canadians would tell friends/co-workers they have a family member with a mental illness (while 72% would tell a friend/co-worker about a cancer diagnosis; that number is 68% for diabetes)
    • 61% of Canadians would be unlikely to go to a family doctor with a mental illness, and 58% would shy away from hiring a lawyer, child care worker, or financial adviser with mental illness
  • stereotypes of mental illness are shown negatively in popular culture—horror movies are filled with “psychos” killing innocent people; mental illness hasn’t been discussed openly and honestly in society


Diagnoses and Medication

  • another issue in the area of mental health (sometimes related to stigma) is the over diagnosis and overuse of medication
  • medication is often used to help kids diagnosed as having ADHD or Asperger syndrome (autism spectrum disorder) far too often, and even sometimes diagnosed incorrectly
    • the increase of diagnoses can be attributed to a number of factors, such as increased knowledge of symptoms; however, sometimes doctors diagnose children who simply misbehave
  • unlike children, seniors are often under diagnosed, as often their symptoms are misread as signs of aging or as part of physical conditions
    • also, mental symptoms looked different in seniors than in young people
    • seniors also have less mobility, and have less access to treatment/diagnosis
    • also, the stigma of mental illness can stop seniors from seeking the help needed
  • sometimes seniors are overmedicated—to help them deal with difficult feelings that come with aging (like sadness, grief, and anxiety) they are prescribed drugs as a quick fix