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Article

Tuomas Laine-Frigren

Marxist ideas influenced and inspired psychological thinking and practice in the 20th century in a range of ways. In different parts of the world, unique versions of Marxist psychology emerged as answers to questions and problems raised by specific historical contexts. As shown in the early 21st century scholarly interventions in Lev Vygotsky studies, the Soviet psychologist’s work was deeply embedded in the sociopolitical, cultural, and ideological context of early Soviet Russia. In countries such as Brazil and Italy, Marxism had a more indirect influence as an emancipatory discourse. In the wider framework of Latin American liberatory ideas and struggles, the educational philosopher Paulo Freire and psychologists Ignacio Martín-Baró and Maritza Montero wanted to increase the autonomy of those in poverty with their radical ideas and practices. In Italy, mental health reformers Franco Basaglia and Franca Ongaro Basaglia wanted to end the social alienation of psychiatric patients by allying with contemporary Italian Marxists and members of other social movements to change institutions from within. In the communist countries of Eastern Europe, psychology and Marxism had a complex relationship. Marxist psychology could be used rhetorically to make psychology somehow safe for socialism, but there were also psychologists who were truly inspired by Marx and used his work to further their wider social and educational agendas. These cases all highlight the importance of the interplay between local, regional, and global aspects in the history of Marxist psychology. Taken together, they show how Marxism has been a discourse utilized for various social, cultural, and scientific ends within psychology. Rather than existing in a purely political form, Marxist ideology and thinking has often manifested in the field as (re)interpretations, traveling ideas, and conceptual hybrids. The history of Marxist psychology can be regarded as a continuous effort to reinterpret and reprocess Marx’s ideas about the human condition. The history of Marxism and psychology also reveals an inner contradiction between control and emancipation, between the ideological aim of molding “collective men” and encouraging individual autonomy.

Article

Wahbie Long

Psychology has always been a discipline immersed in the social and political currents of the day. At the level of psychological theory—whether one considers early pioneers such as Freud, Skinner, and Rogers, or, more recently, Seligman and the neuroscientific turn—its affinity with dominant socio-political concerns is easily demonstrated. Far from such individuals being calculating ideologues, however, they were interpellated—inevitably—by a field of power in which their personal and working lives were already embedded. On the other hand, it is equally true that Psychology’s phenomenal growth in the 20th century was built—most deliberately—on the alliances it formed with powerful bureaucratic elites. The discipline’s proximity to power, that is, meant not only that it could be co-opted ideologically but also that it would collude with oppressive regimes to enhance its own prestige. Project CAMELOT is one example where psychologists were willing to cooperate with the U.S. military in the service of a foreign policy that terrorized Latin America. The discipline also thrived under the Nazis with psychologists heavily involved in meeting the operational requirements of the Wehrmacht. Afrikaner psychologists in South Africa formed a close association with the apartheid state in both ideological and practical terms. More recently, the involvement of the American Psychological Association in a torture scandal has drawn attention once again to the discipline’s potential for collusion with institutional powers. In historiographic terms, some will take issue with the delivery of moral judgments when documenting the history of Psychology. However, the writing of history does not preclude such judgments, especially at a time when the exercise of power permeates disciplinary, institutional, and social life.

Article

Pablo Briñol, Richard E. Petty, and Maria Stavraki

Attitudes refer to general evaluations people have regarding people, places, objects, and issues. Attitudes serve a number of important functions such as guiding choices and actions and giving people a sense of identity and belonging. Attitudes can differ in the extent to which they come from affect, cognition, and behavior. These bases of attitudes can be appraised objectively and subjectively. Attitudes can also differ in their strength, with some attitudes being more impactful and predictive of behavior than others. Some indicators of attitude strength have been viewed as relatively objective in nature (e.g., stability, resistance, accessibility, spreading) whereas other strength indicators are more subjective in nature (e.g., attitude certainty, subjective ambivalence, perceived moral basis of attitudes). Attitudes can be stored in memory in different ways, including an attitude structure in which attitude objects are linked to both positivity and negatively separately, tagging these evaluations with varying degrees of validity. Finally, after a long tradition of assessing attitudes using people’s responses to self-report measures (explicit measures of attitudes), more recent work has also assessed attitude change with measures that tap into people’s more automatic evaluations (implicit measures of attitudes). Implicit and explicit measures can be useful in predicting behavior separately and also in combination.

Article

Just as individuals must often work together, or against each other, to realize desired outcomes or avoid unpleasant outcomes, so too must groups sometimes collaborate or oppose each other. While individual-level interaction is typically characterized by some degree of cooperation—in fact, it is rare and notable when an individual is encountered who absolutely refuses to ever do anything in collaboration with anyone else—group-level interaction is often more combative, and it is not unusual for intergroup interaction to be hostile, sometimes in the extreme. Wars do not originate from one person disliking another person. At a more everyday level, subgroups typically need to combine efforts in the service of a larger, complex product, but often this combination occurs in a suboptimal manner. As well, merger processes are increasingly causing formerly competitive groups to be placed on the same side and required to work together. These mergers are often a challenge. This tendency for group-level interaction to be less cooperative than individual-level interaction can be explained from evolutionary and social-interactive perspectives. The evolutionary approach argues that group-level hostility is a relic from a time when basic resources (food, shelter) were hard to acquire. Providing for kin on a daily basis was a challenge, and the fact that other groups were trying to access the same resources added to the difficulty. Thus, non-kin groups presented a continual threat to the well-being of one’s lineage, and there would be survival value in being quick to oppose, and perhaps eliminate, such groups. From a social interaction perspective, hostile group-level interaction is sometimes a function of learned expectations that groups are competitive with each other; sometimes driven by the anonymity afforded by the group setting, in a manner similar to diffusion of responsibility; sometimes the result of a type of egging-on process, in that the individual who harbors thoughts of lashing out against another person has no one to validate the plan, but a group member who proposes such action can get validation; and sometimes the result of a perceived threat to one’s social identity, in that the outgroup may induce questions about the propriety of one’s belief system and overall way of life. Matters get more complicated if the groups have a history of conflict, opposition, or dislike. Resolving intergroup conflict is difficult, harder than resolving interindividual conflict, and the likelihood of resolution decreases as the severity of the conflict increases. Third parties can help, as can induction of a superordinate identity (“we are all in this together”) and changing how outgroup members are perceived, but how to successfully implement these strategies is not well understood. However, groups that are motivated to work together can and do form strong, durable alliances. (Ironically, good examples of such alliances sometimes come from groups that we would rather not cooperate with each other, like terrorist organizations.) Thus, while intergroup interaction does tend to be negative, this is not a permanent state of affairs, especially if the groups themselves see value in working together.

Article

Pablo Briñol, Richard E. Petty, and Joshua J Guyer

The history of attitudes research can be organized into three main sections covering attitude definition and measurement, attitude-behavior relationships, and attitude change. First, an evaluation of the history of attitude measurement reveals three relatively distinct phases: an early phase in which the classic direct self-report procedures were developed, a middle phase focused on “indirect” assessment devices, and a modern phase in which various measures designed to capture people’s automatic or “implicit” attitudes have flourished. Second, the history of attitude-behavior correspondence can be organized also around three broad themes: an early period in which the presumed close association between attitudes and behaviors was largely an article of faith; a middle period in which some researchers concluded that little, if any, relationship existed between measures of attitudes and overt behaviors; and a more recent period in which the resolution of prior issues stimulated an explosion of research focused on identifying the moderators and psychological mechanisms responsible for attitude-behavior correspondence. Finally, the history of research and ideas regarding attitude change and persuasion can be organized around several prominent theories focused on distinct single processes, dual processes, or multiple processes, each of which are still used by contemporary attitudes researchers.

Article

Michelle Bal and Kees Van den Bos

In the literature on prejudice and derogatory reactions, two prominent lines of research can be distinguished, one focusing on the expression and endorsement of (mostly) negative stereotypes and prejudice, and one zooming in on how defense of cultural worldviews can lead to derogatory reactions toward those who are different from ourselves. Research on both stereotypes/prejudice and cultural worldviews reveals how personal uncertainty can lead to the occurrence of derogatory reactions. In research on prejudice, the automaticity of stereotyping and prejudice has been the subject of debate. Some scholars argue for the inevitability of stereotyping, as these processes are assumed to be automatic and inevitable. By contrast, other scholars distinguish automatic stereotype activation from more controlled stereotype endorsement. Importantly, stereotype activation may be altered by stereotype-negation training reducing the expression of prejudice. In worldview defense research, it is shown how uncertainty-related motives and other worldview threats are related to the expression of derogatory reactions toward those who fall outside our scope of justice. In contemporary society, people frequently have to deal with feelings of personal uncertainty, especially regarding future-oriented delayed outcomes. To cope with these feelings, people adhere to their cultural worldviews. These belief systems enable people to strive for long-term goals, but also make them more vulnerable to expressing prejudice and other derogatory reactions. A wealth of research shows that when people’s worldviews are threatened, they tend to react more rigidly and negatively toward others, especially toward those who belong to an outgroup. For example, if one believes that the world is inherently just (i.e. in studies looking at “just world beliefs”), interacting with innocent victims of crimes can threaten this worldview. In the face of this conflict, people sometimes respond in derogatory and prejudiced ways toward those victims in order to uphold their belief that the world is a just place where bad things can only happen to bad people. Importantly, alleviating feelings of personal uncertainty (either by affirming personal certainty or by refocusing attention toward other aspects of an unjust situation) can reduce derogatory reactions and instigate benevolent reactions focused on helping those who are less well off.

Article

John F. Dovidio, Fabian M. H. Schellhaas, and Adam R. Pearson

Prejudice is an attitude toward a social group and its members that can be expressed as either a negative or positive (e.g., paternalistic) evaluation and creates or maintains hierarchical status relations between groups. The origins of prejudice include individual differences in personality and ideological preferences, socialization experiences relating to exposure to different social norms, and the functional ways that groups relate to one another. Prejudice can be measured directly through self-report measures or indirectly through patterns of behavior or with techniques such as response latency methods. Moreover, implicit prejudice, which is automatically activated, can be distinguished from explicit prejudice, an attitude people know that they hold and may be able to control. Both types of prejudice predict discrimination—the differential treatment of a group or its members—but the strength of these relationships varies as a function of a variety of contextual factors (e.g., social norms). Because of the wide range of forces that shape prejudice and the functional nature of bias, prejudice can be difficult to change. Among the more robust ways to reduce prejudice are strategies that promote frequent, positive contact with members of another group; encourage people to categorize others in ways that emphasize shared group identities; or alter automatic associations underlying implicit bias. The study of prejudice continues to be an important and actively researched topic in social psychology, with contemporary approaches increasingly considering a broader range of micro- (e.g., genetics) and macro-level (e.g., culture) forces that shape the nature of prejudice and its influence on discriminatory behavior.

Article

Margaret Jane Pitts and Cindy Gallois

Social markers in language and speech are cues conveyed through verbal and nonverbal means that serve to identify individuals to the groups to which they belong. Social markers can be linguistic, paralinguistic, or extralinguistic in form, and can range from intentional and purposive (e.g., language selection or dialect accentuation) to unintentional and uncontrollable (e.g., vocal features that mark age or sex). They help to provide context for social organization. Extralinguistic cues are those that may be conveyed through gesture and physical appearance (i.e., skin color). However, social markers in language and speech focus on the paralinguistic (i.e., vocal cues such as pitch and tone) and linguistic cues (i.e., language choice, language style, accent, dialect, code-switching, and multilingualism) that mark social categories. Relevant social categories that are made distinctive through language and speech markers include age, sex and gender, social class, ethnicity, and many others. Scholars across disciplines of psychology, social psychology, linguistics, and communication have approached the study of social markers from different perspectives, resulting in theoretical (e.g., communication accommodation theory, ethnolinguistic vitality theory, linguistic intergroup bias) and methodological (e.g., matched-guise technique and ethnography of communication) advancements.

Article

David Marx and Sei Jin Ko

Stereotypes are widely held generalized beliefs about the behaviors and attributes possessed by individuals from certain social groups (e.g., race/ethnicity, sex, age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation). They are often unchanging even in the face of contradicting information; however, they are fluid in the sense that stereotypic beliefs do not always come to mind or are expressed unless a situation activates the stereotype. Stereotypes generally serve as an underlying justification for prejudice, which is the accompanying feeling (typically negative) toward individuals from a certain social group (e.g., the elderly, Asians, transgender individuals). Many contemporary social issues are rooted in stereotypes and prejudice; thus research in this area has primarily focused on the antecedents and consequences of stereotype and prejudice as well as the ways to minimize the reliance on stereotypes when making social judgments.

Article

Craig D. Parks

A social dilemma is a situation of interdependence between people in which there is conflict between doing what is best for oneself, and doing what is best for the group: Trying to produce the best personal outcome (selfishness) hurts the group effort, and contributing to the group effort (cooperation) leads to a less-than-optimal personal outcome. The best personal outcome is realized by acting for oneself when everyone else acts for the group. Because of this, if each group member does what is best for him or herself, the group will fail, and each person will end up with a poor outcome. Solution of a social dilemma thus requires that at least some people forgo selfish interest in favor of the collective. Research into social dilemmas is primarily oriented around identifying the influences on a person’s willingness to cooperate and designing interventions that will encourage more frequent cooperation. There are many real examples of social dilemmas: clean air, charities, public broadcasting, and groundwater, to name a few.