Local vs. Foreign Tragedy
Applying Social Psychological Principles of Prejudice and Dehumanization
Department of Psychology
University of Texas of the Permian Basin
This case study challenges students to understand and apply a set of concepts from the domain of social psychology to an inflammatory article that was published in The Guardian. Students prepare by reading a chapter on prejudice and stereotyping and then read the article that was written following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The author argues that Americans are prejudiced against Pakistanis and Muslims. He suggests that the shared outrage about the Newtown shootings on the one hand, and the indifference toward Pakistani children killed as a result of the "war on terror" on the other hand, provides evidence of Muslim dehumanization. Students who engage in this activity will 1) identify passages that demonstrate social psychological concepts, 2) apply social psychological concepts to a real life event, 3) determine which theory best predicts a specific response, 4) evaluate an argument, and 5) chose an alternative theory which could help explain a phenomenon. The case is particularly appropriate for social science courses in which prejudice and stereotyping concepts are relevant.
- Identify passages in an article that demonstrate social psychological concepts.
- Apply social psychological concepts to a real life event.
- Determine which theory best predicts a specific response.
- Evaluate an argument.
- Chose an alternative theory which could help explain a phenomenon.
KeywordsPrejudice; stereotyping; discrimination; dehumanization; suppression-justification theory; realistic conflict theory; social psychology; war; cognitive dissonance
Topical AreasScience and the media, Social issues, Social justice issues
Educational LevelUndergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsN/A, Analysis (Issues), Dilemma/Decision, Discussion
Subject HeadingsPsychology | Sociology |