Stereotypes: Funny or not?
The crowd was loud; it was hard to think. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I heard, “Ref! Check his Green Card! I bet he ran like that through the border!” This paper will address and explore the concept of prejudice from a personal incident that occurred during an important soccer game while attending high school. The above quote was made by a fan of the opposing team, Newark Academy, while playing at their home-field in Newark, New Jersey in late November of 2010. I attended The Dwight-Englewood School at the time, and it was our first time to the quarter-finals of the state-sectionals tournament two years in a row. This incident is a perfect example of how the phenomenon of social influence is represented in the real world, and how this term is used to define Social Psychology. Social Psychology refers to the study of how individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the presence of people or the idea of external factors. Social Psychology is important because it helps us explore, predict, and reveal how a certain individual will behave in a given situation. Throughout this paper, I will develop my incident further and explore how the principles of social influence, prejudice, stereotypes, overconfidence barriers, and perceptual salience can be applied to my personal example in order to explain and represent a real-world example of Social Psychology.
As stated above, the concept of social influence is one of the main ideas used to define Social Psychology. In Social Psychology by Elliot Aronson, Timothy D. Wilson, and Robin M. Akert, social influence is defined as, “the effect that the words, actions, or mere presence of other people have on our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, or behavior” (Pg. 3 Aronson, Wilson, Akert). From my understanding, social influence is a term used to describe external factors produced by others that influence an individual’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes, or behavior. I believe whenever the topic of prejudice arises, it is important to recognize that an individual’s beliefs must have been influenced by the presence of others (the others’ beliefs, actions, or words) over a long-term period of time. That is to say, the people who are most influential on a person’s life growing up can aid in the development of a prejudiced thought process. In my incident, other factors that supported the fan’s decision to scream his prejudiced remark could have been the importance of the game, the large crowd consisting of his colleagues, and the fact that his team was winning at the time. Another way social influence is represented by my incident is the way the crowd was influenced by the screaming fan. When the fan made his racially prejudice joke, the crowd responded in laughter and louder cheering. Due to the fact the joke was made by someone representing the same, identifiable group as themselves, the crowd encouraged the fan by viewing his joke as funny instead of offensive. In the fan’s attempt to provoke a reaction from the referee, the crowd, and me, he revealed his prejudice belief which he felt appropriately applied to the situation.
But, what makes his statement prejudiced? In Social Psychology, prejudice is defined as, “a hostile or negative attitude toward a distinguishable group of people, based solely on their membership in that group” (Pg. 391 Aronson, Wilson, Akert). When I think of prejudice, the distinction between generalizations and perceived negative characteristics arises. Prejudice focuses on the idea of a negative outlook towards an individual exclusively due to his or her affiliation with a specific group. In this instance, it is clear that the fan believed I was of Hispanic ethnicity and used that perceived fact to make a negative remark. While it can be argued that his negativity was due to the fact I was on the opposing team, the way in which he chose to show his hostility was through racial prejudice. But the fact that I was on the...
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