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Which explanations of prejudice help us to understand the behaviour of the children in Jane Elliotts class? Discuss with reference to at least two explanations of prejudice

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'Which explanations of prejudice help us to understand the behaviour of the children in Jane Elliott's class? Discuss with reference to at least two explanations of prejudice' Throughout the ages varying levels of prejudice and discrimination have been experienced and witnessed. This can occur for miscellaneous reasons, such as, a persons' race, creed, disability or even their sexual preference. Difference of opinion is the main contributory factor and in worst case scenarios can lead to hostile acts including physical and verbal assault and violence. To explain this behaviour in a psychological manner, two main approaches are recognised. They are the 'dispositional' and the 'situational'. The first theory stems from Freud's Psychodynamic approach and places focus on a prejudiced individual's personality traits and how far these can be socially influenced during life, also known as personality conflict explanations. The latter, referred to as social conflict theory considers how far prejudice can spread and develop in social situations, particularly between groups who share a common interest. On the Tuesday morning, following the day that race-activist Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, USA. ...read more.


With the class approval she divided the pupils by eye colour. She told the children with brown eyes that they were inferior to those with blue eyes, and as such could not expect the same treatment or reward. For example, blue-eyed children were allowed a longer break and to queue first for lunch. The other children were made to wear collars so they could be easily identified and they were not allowed to integrate with their fellow peers. The teacher while treating the blue-eyed ones with positive regard, constantly criticised and belittled the brown-eyed group. Rapidly she saw the children switch from sweet, kind children to ones demonstrating hostility, derogation and even violent behaviour towards others just because they had different coloured eyes. On the second day she told them that she had lied and it was in fact the blue-eyed children that were inferior to the brown eyed ones. Within minutes the situation and treatments experienced had reversed. To understand the behaviour of the children, there is a need to explore examples of prejudice which could have influenced their behaviour. ...read more.


Being a teacher means that Jane Elliot has a strong sense of personal identity and can easily influence her impressionable class as demonstrated by the children's complete and undoubted belief in what their teacher is informing them to be the truth, though is commonly known among adults as false. Due to the success of her experiment she further developed the blue eyes/ brown eyes exercise and went on to use this and other exercises in training workshops with adults so they would experience discrimination and therefore feel empathy towards people they perceived as different, be it caused by their age, sex, race, creed or sexuality. When looking at the possible explanations for the prejudice the children demonstrated in class. It is obvious to an extent that personality conflict and social conflict explanations and social identity theory all play a role in determining the reason behind why the children reacted in a hostile manner. However while prejudice and discrimination is definitely a contributory factor and can fuel aggression leading to violence and misconduct. They are not necessarily the only factors. Reference: Connelly, B. (2008) Social Psychology - Prejudice and Discrimination Website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A1132480 19/08/2003 Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/divided/ ?? ?? ?? ?? Corina Lyle - T00417, Education route 2 - Psychology, 28/12/2008 ...read more.

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