Psychology 12-Group Psychology

 As a group, humans have participated in seemingly senseless acts as far back as historical artifacts or records will indicate (think of the human sacrifices of the Aztecs or Salem Witch Trials!).  Even today, humans collectively act as a group to carry out actions that are as violent, senseless, and serve no one.  WHY?  That is the question you will attempt to answer.

Psychology is essentially the study of human behaviour, why people do the things they do.  Human behaviour is very complex, but in our efforts to interpret behaviour, we may come to understand the behaviour and why certain events occur; more importantly, we can take that newfound understanding or insights to come up with ways to prepare for/solve/prevent problems in the future.

To gain a better understanding of group behaviour, you will explore a current event that falls into one of three categories.

Modern Ritual/or Tradition

-In keeping with the themes of the narrative, “The Lottery,” you may examine a ritual or tradition still observed today that has little benefit (or is even harmful) to society. (i.e. the yearly slaughter of Dolphins on the Faroe Islands)

Modern Day Genocide/or Group Violence

-Unfortunately, genocides or mass murders of particular ethnic, religious, or cultural groups are not unique to the widely known examples like the Holocaust and the Rwandan crisis of 1994.  Where else in the word are genocides still happening? (i.e. the ongoing conflict in South Sudan or Darfur; ethnic or religious cleansing by radical groups in different parts of the world, including the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Asia.)

*You may explore local issues.  We do not have to look very far to recall examples of group violence, such as the fairly recent Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver.  What might drive people to such a behavior?

Altruistic Leaders and/or Groups

-Explore collective action in your own community (or beyond) that exemplify true altruism and demonstrate the positive difference(s) leaders/groups can make on others.  Explain why and how the group was formed, its purpose, and its structure; include success stories and the current issues facing the organization/group today (if still in existence).

The Process:

  1. Give an informative and precise historical background of the topic chosen (consult secondary sources; recall how important studying the history of Rwanda was—cultural and political—to understanding the genocide of 1994).
  2. Apply the best psychological concepts or theories (6 4 minimum) studied in class to explain the chosen topic: (i.e. desensitization; diffusion of responsibility; social norms; concepts from Milgram’s/Asch/The Stanford Prison experiment; locus of control; risky/cautious shift hypothesis; leadership situation/characteristics hypothesis; norms of altruism; etc.)
  3. Finally write a reflective paragraph, demonstrating your newfound understanding of challenges and complexities of your chosen topic. Why have you chosen this specific topic? What original insights have you gained during this process?

 *Please have the topic approved by the teacher

 Grading Criteria:

Offers an in-depth overview of history/ facts of the topic/event:/12

Effectively applies the psychological concepts chosen:  /12

Demonstrates an understanding of challenges/complexities of the event with a high degree of clarity:   /12

Organization (flow/ordering of information/consideration of font size/inclusion of visuals, i.e. maps and/or photos): /8

Personal reflection (thoughtfulness; perspective/creativity)/6

Total:          /50         

Psychology 12-Group Psychology