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


Author(s)

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 Areas

Social issues

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Analysis (Issues)

Language

English

Subject Headings

Psychology  |   Sociology  |  


Date Posted

12/29/2011

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