Many individuals consider themselves a part of two or more cultures. With experiencing the customs, traditions, and thought processes of two totally different cultures, those in the field of psychological studies, can use these “bicultural” people to help examine the fascinating interplay between opposing cultures within individuals. I would like to see a study conducted that primed the bicultural participants with something they associate with a particular culture that they subscribe to and then present an ambiguous situation that could be approached in different ways depending on the cultural chosen. This basic experimental structure can be manipulated in a variety of ways to approach the subject matter differently. Following a similar format, the two cultures could be made to compete directly for expression in a situation yielding perhaps more interesting results.
It seems there are many ways of attempting to lessen stereotyping behavior but they have varying degrees of effectiveness and practicality. Although this is not an easy problem to solve, current literature persists in trying to deal with this insidious phenomenon. One article titled “Not Just For Stereotyping Anymore: Racial Essentialism Reduces Domain-General Creativity” outlines a study conducted by Carmit Tadmor, examining the relationship between racial essentialism and general domain creativity. In it, the experimenters prime the participants with racial essentialism and then test creativity using Duckner’s Candle task and a task asking to think of as many ways to use a brick as possible. Result showed that those primed with racial essentialism performed more poorly on the creativity measures. I would like to see an extension of this by looking at the possibility of the reverse. Can creative priming effect racially biased stereotyping? Although no studies have tested this idea, it has a high potential upside and very strong implications.
Although stereotyping has always existed, the social atmosphere as a whole is ever changing. With the quick growth of technology, people from all over the world can interact and communicate more easily. How does technology influence stereotyping? With a developing body of knowledge about stereotyping we can better understand how the process works and possible avenues to explore with the purpose of combatting it. Some theorize that exposure to different cultural groups would lessen the tendency to stereotype. The internet provides a method of connecting people (albeit the interactions are not in person). The internet also provides the means to propagate information and messages that reinforce or encourage stereotypes. With all of this information, it would be interesting to see how exactly people are affected by the use of the internet.
In pluralistic ignorance and the bystander effect, it seems to come down to the fear of standing out and more so, the fear of rejection. It seems, in these situations, the brain automatically assumes the worst. For example, when a teacher lectures on unrelated material and asks for question, nobody answers. Although they are all confused, they may interpret the inaction of their classmates to mean that they all understand the material. The individual assumes that they are the one that is behind in the class and for fear of seeming mentally deficient, they remain quiet. With the bystander effect, this holds but the element of duty is introduced and complicates the matter. In both cases, perhaps some sort of exposure/implosive therapy may work as a preventative measure against inaction in applicable situations. If the individuals fear can be removed from the situation, we may be able to limit the effects of pluralistic ignorance and the bystander effect.
With so much information rich stimuli flooding our conscious experience, our attention is often too far stretched to give sufficient thoughtfulness to all of the components of each situation. With that being said, it is also important to note that the information in reality, although not consciously perceived, may very well still have a significant impact on our thoughts and moods. This can lead to a cyclical nature in the realms of cognition and affect. For example, if a mood is unconsciously influenced by some primer, it can influence other mood congruous thoughts that perpetuate the disposition. This all occurs unconsciously and automatically as the individual is unaware of the process. Because of this, the individual fails to have successful introspective discovery, leaving themselves subject to the unconsciously induced mood. It is a thought provoking and scary thought that our lives can be so seriously impacted by things we never truly are aware of.
I recently watched a video that discussed memory retrieval in a therapy session. The topic of false memories came up and I instantly thought of Piaget and his near abduction story. The one thing most people hold dearly is their memories. The idea that something we hold as truth may be entirely made-up is shocking to say the least. The video went on to mention that memories recovered under hypnosis are more likely to be false memories. The mind is especially susceptible to suggestion in the hypnotic state.
With the commonness of false memories, it is all the more important to have external corroboration to validate them. In the case of abuse patients, having a sibling someone else confirm the claim can help make sure people are not wrongfully convicted of abuse claims brought about by false memories.
I think it would be fascinating to see if people favor emotionally salient information or information matching their emotional state. To test this, participants will be primed with a mood-state inducer and given a list of words equally composed of words with high emotional content and other words associated with the primed mood. Participants will recall as many as possible and we can see which they recall more. An experiment like this would help us better understand the magnitude at which we are affected by salient emotional content and mood-congruent content.