Discuss Explanations of Group Displays as an Adaptive Response

Topics: Sociology, Lynching, Scientific method Pages: 3 (813 words) Published: November 6, 2012
Discuss two or more explanations of group displays as an adaptive response

Individuals act differently in a group to when they are on their own. Group displays may be an adaptive response for individuals within the group. An example of group displays is lynch mobs. A lynch mob is a group of people who kill people for a presumed offence, without legal authority. In the 19th century over 3,000 lynchings of black people occurred in the USA, due to a number of different reasons.

One proposed explanation of lynch mobs is ‘The Power Threat Hypothesis’, which was developed by Blalock et al. This hypothesis suggested that lynch mobs evolve due to the rising group membership of the minority, which causes the majority group to intensify their efforts to maintain dominance. This led to the suggestion that as the minority group percentage increases so does the majority group’s discriminatory behaviour. Blalock suggested that lynch mobs could also form due to fear of political power in the hands of the minority and also because of any perceived racial threat.

There is very little supporting research for this explanation of lynch mobs. Clarke et al conducted a 20-year longitudinal study in which they studied lynch mobs in Brazil. It was found that although the main victims of lynch mobs were Afro-Brazilian people, they did not pose any kind of threat to the majority group and had very little political power. This shows that lynch mobs may not form due to fear of the minority group and could render the hypothesis as being inconclusive. One strength of this research is that a longitudinal study was used. Therefore, the results would be reliable since they were collected over a long period and are not from a snap shot in time. Another methodological strength is that Clarke et al used a very large sample size; therefore results are very likely to be reliable and representative of the population in Brazil. As a result, they can be described as having population validity....
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