The Stone Soup Experiment: Why Cultural Boundaries Persist

University of Chicago Press
Free sample

The Stone Soup Experiment is a remarkable story of cultural difference, of in-groups, out-groups, and how quickly and strongly the lines between them are drawn. It is also a story about simulation and reality, and how quickly the lines between them can be dismantled. In a compulsively readable account, Deborah Downing Wilson details a ten-week project in which forty university students were split into two different simulated cultures: the carefree Stoners, and the market-driven Traders. Through their eyes we are granted intimate access to the very foundations of human society: how group identities are formed and what happens when opposing ones come into contact.

The experience of the Stoners and Traders is a profound testament to human sociality. Even in the form of simulation, even as a game, the participants found themselves quickly—and with real conviction—bound to the ideologies and practices of their in-group. The Stoners enjoyed their days lounging, chatting, and making crafts, while the Traders—through a complex market of playing cards—competed for the highest bankrolls. When they came into contact, misunderstanding, competition, and even manipulation prevailed, to the point that each group became so convinced of its own superiority that even after the simulation’s end the students could not reconcile.

Throughout her riveting narrative, Downing Wilson interweaves fascinating discussions on the importance of play, emotions, and intergroup interaction in the formation and maintenance of group identities, as well as on the dynamic social processes at work when different cultural groups interact. A fascinating account of social experimentation, the book paints a vivid portrait of our deepest social tendencies and the powers they have over how we make friends and enemies alike.
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About the author

Deborah Downing Wilson is an instructor in the department of communication at the University of Nevada, Reno.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Oct 26, 2015
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Pages
176
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ISBN
9780226289946
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Language
English
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Genres
Education / Educational Psychology
Education / General
Education / Higher
Psychology / Experimental Psychology
Psychology / Social Psychology
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Eysenck begins with a look at a paradox of modern psychology. Experimental psychologists use strictly scientific methods to investigate what to many people seem trivial and sterile problems, yet some social psychologists, psychiatrists and psychoanalysts investigate what are clearly important and socially relevant problems, but use methods and theories whose scientific rigor is doubtful at best. This paradox is artificial and unnecessary. Methods of investigation and theories and concepts enable us to combine worthwhile problems and rigorous methods.

The book takes a long look at a particular problem which Eysenck investigated in depth during his illustrious lifetime. This tour de force, by one of the magisterial figures of modern psychology, is written for people as well as about people. It is not a rehash of the voluminous writings of lawyers, poets, politicians, dramatists, historians, psychiatrists and others who have felt compelled to write about these psychological matters without even a smattering of psychological knowledge. It is, instead, based on empirical investigations that are too often declared to be nonexistent by publicists and politicos.

Hans J. Eysenck (1916-1997) was professor of psychology at the University of London and the director of its psychological department at the Institute of Psychiatry. He was best known for his experimental researches in the field of personality. Among his many books are Rebel with a Cause, Dimensions of Personality, The Dynamics of Anxiety and Hysteria, Intelligence, and Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire, all published by Transaction.

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The study of human behavior in actual social settings is an extraordinarily complex area of research. Social behavior, unlike the controlled conditions of the laboratory, is affected by an enormous number of variables and environments. Researchers, therefore, are faced with the task of designing adequate experiments that have the sophisticated controls necessary to increase the experimenter's confidence that a relationship between a particular stimulus in a social environment and a particular social response actually exists. This distinctive supplementary text for social psychology courses gives students a real feeling for the possibilities of experimentation outside the laboratory. The reprinted and abstracted articles in this book are reports of experimental studies conducted in natural settings, and the orientation is scientific--focusing on consistencies between laboratory and field research, rather than their inconsistencies. The book discusses research on discrimination, status, prosocial behavior, dissonance, attitude change, interpersonal and group influence, compliance performance, change and rumors, honesty, and participation. The chapters were selected on the basis of both content and methodology and demonstrate particularly ingenious applications of experimental methodology to the study of natural settings. Throughout the book, the editor stresses the ethical and moral issues associated with field research, demonstrating that scientific work must be humane as well as rigorous. Social Psychology in Natural Settings is appropriate for course use at introductory as well as more advanced levels. It is instructive and useful as a reference volume for graduate students and researchers as well.
The phenomenon of learning has always been of fundamental interest to psychologists. Although much of the research in this area approaches the process of learning as a consequence of direct experience, this volume is principally concerned with learning by example.

A widening interest in modeling and vicarious processes of learning has been apparent in recent years. Psychological Modeling highlights the most important work done in the subject and offers an extensive review of the major theories of learning by modeling. In his introductory essay, the editor identifies the most important controversial issues in the field of observational learning and reviews a large body of research findings.

Among the questions debated in this volume are: How do observers form an internal model of the outside world to guide their actions? What role does reinforcement play in observational learning? What is the relative effectiveness of models presented in live action, in pictorial presentations, or through verbal description? What is the scope of modeling influences? What factors determine whether people will learn what they have observed? What types of people are most susceptible to modeling influences, and what types of models are most influential in modifying the behavior of others?

This volume deals with an important problem area in a lively fashion. Its special organization makes it a stimulating adjunct to all courses in psychology - undergraduate and graduate - in which psychological modeling is discussed. It also provides a readable introduction for educators and other professionals seeking reliable information on the state of knowledge in this area.

Albert Bandura has been Professor of Psychology at Stanford University since 1953. In 1969-70 he was Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Professor Bandura served on the editorial boards of several professional journals including the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, and the Journal of Experimental Psychology. He now serves on the editorial board of Applied Psychology as well as on the advisory board of European Journal of School Psychology. He is author or editor of over a dozen books. His articles appear in source books in many areas of the discipline of psychology, and he is a frequent contributor to academic and professional symposia and journals.
The definitive firsthand account of the groundbreaking research of Philip Zimbardo—the basis for the award-winning film The Stanford Prison Experiment

Renowned social psychologist and creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment Philip Zimbardo explores the mechanisms that make good people do bad things, how moral people can be seduced into acting immorally, and what this says about the line separating good from evil.

The Lucifer Effect explains how—and the myriad reasons why—we are all susceptible to the lure of “the dark side.” Drawing on examples from history as well as his own trailblazing research, Zimbardo details how situational forces and group dynamics can work in concert to make monsters out of decent men and women. 

Here, for the first time and in detail, Zimbardo tells the full story of the Stanford Prison Experiment, the landmark study in which a group of college-student volunteers was randomly divided into “guards” and “inmates” and then placed in a mock prison environment. Within a week the study was abandoned, as ordinary college students were transformed into either brutal, sadistic guards or emotionally broken prisoners.

By illuminating the psychological causes behind such disturbing metamorphoses, Zimbardo enables us to better understand a variety of harrowing phenomena, from corporate malfeasance to organized genocide to how once upstanding American soldiers came to abuse and torture Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib. He replaces the long-held notion of the “bad apple” with that of the “bad barrel”—the idea that the social setting and the system contaminate the individual, rather than the other way around.

This is a book that dares to hold a mirror up to mankind, showing us that we might not be who we think we are. While forcing us to reexamine what we are capable of doing when caught up in the crucible of behavioral dynamics, though, Zimbardo also offers hope. We are capable of resisting evil, he argues, and can even teach ourselves to act heroically. Like Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem and Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate, The Lucifer Effect is a shocking, engrossing study that will change the way we view human behavior.

Praise for The Lucifer Effect

“The Lucifer Effect will change forever the way you think about why we behave the way we do—and, in particular, about the human potential for evil. This is a disturbing book, but one that has never been more necessary.”—Malcolm Gladwell

“An important book . . . All politicians and social commentators . . . should read this.”—The Times (London)

“Powerful . . . an extraordinarily valuable addition to the literature of the psychology of violence or ‘evil.’”—The American Prospect

“Penetrating . . . Combining a dense but readable and often engrossing exposition of social psychology research with an impassioned moral seriousness, Zimbardo challenges readers to look beyond glib denunciations of evil-doers and ponder our collective responsibility for the world’s ills.”—Publishers Weekly

“A sprawling discussion . . . Zimbardo couples a thorough narrative of the Stanford Prison Experiment with an analysis of the social dynamics of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.”—Booklist

“Zimbardo bottled evil in a laboratory. The lessons he learned show us our dark nature but also fill us with hope if we heed their counsel. The Lucifer Effect reads like a novel.”—Anthony Pratkanis, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology, University of California
From roommate disputes to family arguments, trouble is inevitable in interpersonal relationships. In Everyday Troubles, Robert M. Emerson explores the beginnings and development of the conflicts that occur in our relationships with the people we regularly encounter—family members, intimate partners, coworkers, and others—and the common responses to such troubles.
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By calling attention to the range of possible reactions to conflicts in interpersonal relationships, Emerson also reminds us that extreme, even criminal actions often result when people fail to find ways to deal with trouble in moderate, non-confrontational ways. Innovative and insightful, Everyday Troubles is an illuminating look at how we deal with discord in our relationships.
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