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A Social-Cognitive Exploration of Reactions to Leiby Kletzky's Abduction and Homicide



Co Authors:

Jamie G. McMinn
Psychology Department
Westminster College
mcminnjg@westminster.edu

Dana S. Dunn
Psychology Department
Moravian College
dunn@moravian.edu

Abstract:

An eight-year-old boy, abducted while walking home from day camp, is killed and dismembered, and his alleged murderer, a member of the boy's community, is arrested. Students read details about the case with the goal of exploring how people have responded to the abduction and homicide, and to understand how those responses fit into the explanatory lenses of social psychology and social cognition. Through a selection of quotations from comment sections on news websites, students explore such concepts as internal and external attributions, the hindsight bias, the representativeness and availability heuristics, victim blaming, the just world hypothesis, overgeneralization, and the illusion of invulnerability. The case was designed for use in social psychology courses but would also be appropriate for introductory psychology, forensics, or social cognition courses.

Objectives:
  • To explore a variety of social cognitive phenomena in the context of a current event.
  • To explore systematically how people explain others' behaviors.
  • To develop analytical skills to identify key social psychological constructs.
  • To explore how students have used social cognitive principles to react to information about the Kletzky case, and to respond to situations in their own lives.
Keywords: Social cognition; victim blaming; attributions; heuristics; just world hypothesis; social psychology: Brooklyn; New York
Topical Area: Social issues
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Analysis (Issues)
Language: English
Subject Headings: Psychology   Sociology  
Date Posted: 12/29/2011
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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