Case Examples in Social Psychology Part V

Photo Credit: Quora

Photo Credit: Quora

By Dr. Monique M. Chouraeshkenazi

(1) Hindsight bias is the psychological concept of “having a feeling,” making a prediction, or knowing beforehand after something has occurred. The bias of retrospection is when something is preconceived or predicted without relevance or causation. For example, security representatives of a private sector company consult with a security firm to enhance security education, risk modeling, and training within an organization. The security reps choose a policy that is specialized for larger, federal agencies and would not be conducive to the private company’s over security risk management plan. The consultants state the policy is not appropriate for their firm, but since most of reps are former federal employees and have security experience, they believe this policy can work and choose to do utilize the plan. After a few attempts, they realize the plan does not work for their operations and is not cost-effective. The “hindsight bias” in this example is the disposition that the employees knewthe policy would work based on their experience and past backgrounds, believing that they could predict successwith the plan before it was implemented (Boyd, 2015). 

(2) Jacobs and Eccles (1992) believe the best way for mothers to encourage their daughters to strengthen their math skills is to alter their beliefs about stereotypical and societal norms when it comes to females and their performance. Additionally, both authors believed stereotyping and prejudice is indicative of self-image maintenance methodologies, provoking such bias (Aronson & Aronson, 2012). If mothers mitigate their preconceived notions about gender roles, it could change their daughters’ performance. The researchers conducted an experiment with an estimate of 1,500 mothers and daughters, who were the ages of 11 and 12. Their hypothesis was mothers’ opinions of their daughters’ performance is predicated on their stereotypical beliefs of gender roles. The mothers were asked questions about their daughter’s performance in math and sports. Results found that mothers had a “gender stereotypical beliefs” that correlated with their daughter’s skill and performance (Jacobs & Eccles, 1992). The key to mitigating gender bias and roles is self-affirmation. 

(3) Social Identity theory is the psychological concept of individuals cognitively view themselves as part of a group than as distinctive human beings (Ellemers & Haslam, 2012). The theory also delineates a person’s characteristic traits and how he/she views themselves among their peers or those they interact with (groups). As mentioned in the previous essay question, stereotyping and prejudice are dependent upon self-image. How people view themselves are suggestive of whom they associate with. Fein and Spencer (1997) expressed that self-image is very important and it is a primary factor in stereotyping and discrimination. Their studies showed when individuals within a certain group evaluated another member in the group, they were hesitant to negatively assess others. This was especially if their assessments were positive by the members within the group. They were prone to give negative evaluations about members in their group if their feedback was negative. Those who had negative feedback produced feelings of low self-esteem, while some who received negative feedback responded back negatively, which increased their self-image. As a result, researchers believed stereotyping and discrimination directly impacted an individual’s self-worth and the role he/she plays within a group (Fein & Spencer, 1997). 

(4) I define scapegoat as an individual is who blamed for everything and for convenience. I do not know when I first heard the word, but it was a term that was used heavily in the military. I do remember, as a young Airman, a noncommissioned officer in a leadership position used the term of how to discuss the chain of command within the Air Force. He was speaking to all young Airman when he discussed maturity, responsibility, and promotion when becoming a noncommissioned officer. He told us the higher we promote within the ranks, the more accountability we have for ourselves and others. I paraphrase: When you become a supervisor, there is more responsibility for the actions of yourself and your subordinates. When your subordinates do something wrong, YOU as the supervisor, are the scapegoat. What he meant was anytime a subordinate did not complete their duties or failed to obey policies (dereliction of duty), the supervisor is held accountable and has to explain such limiting factors to their leadership. To me, when he used scapegoat in this instance, it was an automatic, “you will be blamed for everything that goes wrong. You are the sacrifice. Therefore, you train your Airman well to do their jobs and be responsible in and out of uniform.” An example of a scapegoat would be an individual starting a new position. Because this person does not know the job, he/she is vulnerable and can be the target of blame for anything that goes wrong.

(5) An effective strategy to change deeply-rooted attitudes and behaviors is a very challenging feat. If it was easy, we would not have hate, racist, and discriminatory groups or any group that undermines and insults people of other cultures, religions, and ethnical backgrounds. But if there was a strategy that could start the narrative on changing deeply-rooted behavior, I honestly believe it would be listening. There are too much debates, arguments, violence, and controversy because there is too much talking and physical acts (actions) and not enough listening (passive). I watched a video about year ago of an African American activist and musician, Daryl Davis, who wantss to abolition hate and discrimination groups. However, he wants to understand the source of hate within those groups. One of the most powerful things he did was actually reach out to a Klu Klux Klan member and ask him if he was willing to have a discussion. He was adamant that he would listen to the member’s views without retaliation, retribution, or criticism. Because of that, the member was willing to talk with him. An extraordinary thing is he attends KKK rallies to befriend its members. As of 2017, Mr. Davis stated 200 Klansmen have left the group because of his interactions with them (Brown, 2017). Something truly powerful and the irony is something so difficult to achieve (deep-rooted and ingrained behaviors) can possibly be mitigated with something as simple as listening. 


Aronson, J. & Aronson, E. (eds). (2012). Readings About the Social Animal. (11thed). 

            New York, NY: Worth Publishers. 

Boyd, D. (2015). Innovators: Beware the hindsight bias. Psychology Today. Retrieved from (accessed on 13 October 2018). 

Brown, D. (2017). How one man convinced 200 Klu Klux Klan members to give up their robes. National Public Radio. Retrieved from (accessed on 13 October 2018).  

Ellemers, N. & Haslam, S. A. (2012). Social identity theory. American Psychological Association: Handbook of Theories of Social Psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, pp. 379-398. 

Fein, S. & Spencer, S. J. (1997). Prejudice as self-image maintenance. Affirming the self through derogating others. American Psychological Association: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(1), pp. 31-44. 

Jacobs, J. E. & Eccles, J. S. (1992). The impact of mothers’ gender-role stereotypic beliefs on 

            mothers’ and children’s ability perceptions. National Institutes of Health: Journal 

            Personality Social Psychology, 63(6), pp. 932-944.