forgiveness enhanced-buzz-19285-1386285314-17

So, its a very sad time. Nelson Mandela has died at the ripe old age of 95. In my opinion, people like him shouldn’t be allowed to die. Ever. Never ever. Because we haven’t learned from history, haven’t learned our lesson, and we need constant reminders that we need to make this world a better place, in any and every way we can. Nelson Mandela is not superhuman, he is what Zimbardo called an “everyday hero”. He is just a man, who has made mistakes, but he also made so many choices to DO GOOD, to BE GOOD, to be BETTER than he was yesterday. Social psychology is a field that has mostly formed from the miseries of human existence. Rarely has any kind of real contribution to the field arisen from genuine, unmotivated, non instigated introspection or outrospection. The legacy we want social psychology to leave is that one of a field that does what it can to make the world better.

What does this all have to do with Nelson Mandela? First of all, many of you might know who he is, but now you will. AUC also wrote a tribute for him as well. He was a lot of things, but he was also a social psychologist. Not really, not in training, but in spirit and thought. He was a social psychologist in disguise. Its hard to forget that he was a flesh in blood man, not a superhero, and that he still put so many social movements into action, in South Africa and all over the world. But no, he was an ordinary man, a critical empathetic and charismatic man, a man who understood the power of social influence. He spent his life exposing how the power of social influence led to prejudice, discrimination, injustice, and then when the tides turned, he used social influence to try to overturn all of the systems and use the power of social influence for good.  He was a model for prosocial behavior, when he could have been anything but forgiving, understanding, empathetic, he had every reason not to be. But he used controlled thinking, and utilized so many aspects of South African morals, beliefs, and attitudes to create CHANGE. This is not to say everything is perfect in South Africa, prejudice and discrimination are still rampant, but the status quo being interrupted set off the spark for long term, sustainable attitude change.

taught to hate

People always wonder HOW HE DID IT?!?!?Well, he didn’t do it alone number one. What social psychology teaches us about minority influence, is how amazingly powerful it can be in certain circumstances. Mandela had the qualities of being the kind of leader that could create the kind of group cohesiveness that would lead to consistency and agreement between members on the BASIC ISSUES. He was able to instill trust and avoid what could have been the inevitable backlash of having a cohesive group, that they would turn on the “out group” who were once the oppressors now that Mandela had the power to do so. He focused on trying to have a fair and peaceful transition process, and succeeded in many ways and failed in others. But he DID emphasize that to move forward we need to empathize with and understand the perpetrators of all of that violence and the bystanders who did nothing.

work with enemy

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner”

enemy sport

He wasn’t always the emblem of peaceful protest, he supported resistance in its many forms. For a while, a long while and until very recently, he was considered a “terrorist” while simultaneously being glorified for being a peaceful otherworldly altruist. He suffered the consequences of NOT conforming, as he felt the price of conforming was too high to bear.

Terrorist VS Inspiration

mandela terroristIcon inspired the world

He did not only speak out about the injustices in South Africa, but EVERYWHERE. Take a look.  7 Nelson Mandela Quotes You Probably Won’t See In The U.S. Media. Here is my favorite: “The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

enhances freedom of others

I could go on and on and on, showing how much of a social psychologist he was in his fight against prejudice, but I will leave some things up to you to find out and figure out.  SO, comment on the post with some information on how he used social psychological principles to end prejudice and discrimination in South Africa and all over the world. He wasn’t perfect, but he was more often than not a positive model for prosocial behavior, leading by lived example. One that we all should follow.

FYI to ALL and especially for the lovely ladies trying to tackle harassment in Egypt with Social Psychology…. Here is some food for thought :)

This Sexual Harassment PSA Shows You What Egyptian Women Live With Every Day

Follow the hyperlinks to find resources about various initiatives within Egypt that have been done to try to combat sexual harassment.

Take a look at this PSA created by UN Women. Even from the title you can tell which strategy towards attitude change, “Put Yourself in Her Shoes”….. Do I even need to elaborate???

How successful do you think this PSA is? What routes is it taking? Take a look at some of the comments as well.

The below video is also AMAZING. Apparently this aired on TV but I had no idea of its existence to be honest. Its a show called Awel el Kheit, the beginning of the thread. They talk to young men about harassment, and oh my, LISTEN TO THEIR RESPONSES. Think about theories of and kinds of aggression, how it started what sustains it and maintains it…

Also, there is an awesome tactic used, the woman being harassed is…… SURPRISE!  You will have to watch to find out.

I have my own theories on how sexual harassment has not been adequately addressed by NGO’s, popular youth movements, and other “invested” parties, but I would LOVE to know what you all think. Since its out in the open and being talked about and there are so many trials to MAKE IT STOP, why hasn’t it even dwindled? In fact, many people see that the opposite has happened and that it has INCREASED.


Waiting to hear what you think… as always 🙂

Social Psychology and Social Issues: The Case of Pornography

So obviously this is a contentious topic as well as a sensitive topic to discuss, but its also a pertinent social issue that can/is/and should continue to be addressed by Social Psychology. The link between pornography and aggression has been examined for decades now and psychologists have addressed the issue within various sub-fields of psychology. There are also many societal, cultural, and local folk beliefs about pornography and the consequences of it on Egyptian youth. Film Thaqafy/Cultural Movie was made in 2001 and revolves around this issue. Watch the trailer, both to have a good laugh and to see the direction the film was going in. Worry not, there are also subtitles.

Film thaqafy #2

That was 14 years ago and even more recently there was a call to ban porn sites in Egypt. The UK have had a similar debate but came to a very different legal ruling. The call to ban porn sites was not implemented In Egypt as opposed to the steps that are currently being taken in the UK. Public opinion aside, results of research are mixed, and the field of psychology has been a big player in the debate.

To address social issues, social psychologists create hypotheses and then come up with research designs to test these hypotheses. Creating a hypothesis is an extremely creative process and one in which we draw upon our personal construals and schemas. There is an art to it, the relationship between a hypothesis and the methods or combination of methods used to examine this hypothesis. Curiosity bring on questions, questions bring on hypotheses, hypothesis relegate to methods, and they all lead to (if you do it right) insight into human behavior and the effects of social influence upon said behavior.

So, there are lots of questions to address, but lets focus on these two.

1. Is porn bad or good or neither? How will we be able to tell? How can we form our hypothesis? Oh yeah, and form one because we will be talking about this in class 🙂

2. What exactly can we take from the results of research? Especially keeping in mind the limitations of ethically and practically researching this issue?

PS Read this if you want to read something extremely strange.


PSS If you want to watch the entire movie Film Saqafy/Cultural Film, and you should one day, here it is 🙂