Psychology Coursework


Psychology Coursework Writing

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Psychology Coursework Sample

Sometimes, when we are very angry at someone, we wish we could banish him to some remote place and never see him again. Some people whose prejudices are strong feel that way about whole groups. If it were possible to put either individuals or whole groups completely beyond the range of communication, the existing prejudice would be effectively maintained. But there are other ways, just as effective as utter banishment, of cutting off communication and thus of maintaining the hostile attitude originally responsible for the behavior which are equivalent to banishment. We shall note a few of the methods of maintaining social distance between ourselves and those toward whom we feel hostile.

Meanwhile, it is important to make clear why hostile acts so often reduce communication with the objects of hostility and also serve to perpetuate hostile attitudes. The basic reasons have to do with the psychology of learning and forgetting. Psychologists no longer think of forgetting as a process of mere "evaporation" which inevitably accompanies the passage of time. Both experimental and clinical evidence leads to the conclusion that things which have been learned are most likely to "disappear" -- i.e., to be forgotten -- when they have been replaced by something else which has been learned. Most forgetting is not a passive disappearance but is more aptly described as unlearning. (This problem is a very complicated one. Many psychologists believe that there are some important exceptions to the theory which we have stated in greatly simplified form. In general, however, the theory may be accepted as applying to the change and persistence of attitudes.) A person is not very likely to unlearn a hostile attitude toward someone with whom he has no contact. Suppose, for example, that two friends part in anger. If the hostility of either of them is so great that they avoid each other, there is little opportunity for them to unlearn the hostile attitude which was responsible for their parting. As we shall see, the same principle applies to hostile attitudes toward groups. If the members of one group share hostile attitudes toward another group, they are quite likely to take steps which reduce communication with that group. Such behavior tends to reinforce the attitude of hostility, because of reduced opportunities for the kind of unlearning that is necessary if the group norms are to prescribe less rather than more hostility.

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