Contemporary Social Psychology Assignment Sample

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Contemporary Social Psychology

Introduction Of Contemporary Social Psychology Assignment Sample

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Theory 1: Social Comparison Theory

Description of the theory

Social comparison theory is an idea with which an individual determines his personal and social worth as compare to the other person. This theory is directly applicable to the notion that the people compare themselves with others. The social comparison theory was developed by Leon Festinger, a psychologist in 1954. According to the author, social comparison theory may be based on certain criteria such as economic status, looks, & intelligence.

This theory assumes that if the people are not feeling better than the other people then it feels worse for them (Buunk and Schaufeli, 2018). This is upward comparison. On the other hand, downward comparison makes people feel better because with the help of downward comparison they are feeling like the people are better than the other person.

It relates to the social phenomenon in which an individual is making different assumptions and judgments about themselves while comparing with others. They are comparing themselves with the other person because they also want to be perfect in front of the other person. An individual compares with another person when they have the inspiration to improve themselves.

Empirical support of the theory

According to the empirical theory, it has been studied that the social comparison among the people on psychology and human behavior is important because it will give the motivation to the people to improve themselves.

The social comparison theory has been used in real life by people. For example, a music student may compare himself with a star student and compares his abilities and capabilities with the other (Gerber 2020). When he finds that his abilities do not match with his peer's then he might improve his abilities to achieve more. The features of this theory are related to self-improvement, self-evaluation, and self-enhancement

Limitations of the theory

The social comparison theory has no conflicting findings because people always wanted to compare themselves with others to improve more in their abilities and capabilities (Choi, Dowell and Brooks, 2018). It has been identified that the theory has been explained all the things that are relevant to the social comparison to make feel better to the people. This theory can be applied to anyone because it is all about comparison and the comparison can happen in any field with the other person. This is the best theory when an individual wants to improve himself as compared with the other person.

The social comparison theory has influential factors in which it has both negative and positive factors. Sometimes it will reduce the self-esteem of an individual which has a negative impact. The criticism of this theory is that it may chances that the social comparison can lead to a negative impact on an individual about themself that may reduce self-efficacy and self-esteem (Kim and Park, 2020). When people have high self-esteem, they tend to fare better with the social comparison. On the other hand, when they have low self-esteem, it will feel worse while comparing with other people. It has been identified that the low self-esteem could cause a stress response while comparing with others.

Theory 2: Aversive Racism Theory

Description of theory

According to this theory, it has been analyzed that the negative evaluation of ethnic minorities are realized when people avoid the interaction with the other ethnic group The Aversive racism theory was founded in 1986 by Samuel, Gaertner & John (Dovidio, Gaertner and Pearson, 2017). The assumption of this theory is that the people are faster classifying the groups of inducements that are similar to the other group. This theory is theorized to work in delicate and indirect ways.

According to the social phenomenon, Aversive racism is characterized that it is more complex, attitudes nevertheless with harmful views towards the other and hesitant expressions. It has been identified that over-racism is characterized by the over hatred for discernment against ethnic minorities.

Empirical support of the theory

According to the empirical study, it has been analyzed that the researcher shows that the aversive racism theory has some underlying reasons for the race detailed experiences and connections continue in violence (Dovidio, Pearson and Penner, 2018). It has been identified that this theory has a significant impact on the practice devoted the better understanding bias, determined disparities which are based on social identity groups such as social class, race, gender, and so on.

This theory supports the empirical study because it has been giving the better experience and also understands the impact of disparities in a range of diverse settings such as health outcomes, intergroup conflict, experiences of stress and mental health issues, and so on. According to the study, it has been analyzed that the aversive framework is that due to the human biases are deeply rooted within the historical context and protected by continuing societal ideologies.

Limitations of the theory

The findings of this theory are that the use of aversive racism delivers a powerful lens to help explain the discrepancies in the bystander effect built on the race of the victim. The Aversive racism theory is very complex so it may be a chance that this theory will not understand by an individual which is the biggest limitation of this theory. This theory cannot be applied to anyone because racism exists as a multidimensional and multilevel construct.

The influential factors of this theory are that it has a negative impact in terms of social, political, and moral on the country. It has both negative and positive influence factors which has a direct impact on the people. The positive impact is that it will give a better experience to the people (Mowatt 2017). The criticism of the theory is that the negative impact the aversive racist's theory has on the blacks is not hostility or hate. However, instead of this, they have negative involvements which include discomfort, fear, uneasiness, disgust which tend to motivate avoidance rather than intentionally destructive behaviors.


Buunk, B.P. and Schaufeli, W.B., 2018. Burnout: A perspective from social comparison theory. In Professional burnout: Recent developments in theory and research (pp. 53-69). CRC Press.

Dovidio, J.F., Gaertner, S.L. and Pearson, A.R., 2017. Aversive racism and contemporary bias.

Dovidio, J.F., Pearson, A.R. and Penner, L.A., 2018. Aversive racism, implicit bias, and microaggressions. Microaggression theory: Influence and implications.

Gerber, J.P., 2020. Social comparison theory. Encyclopedia of personality and individual differences, pp.5004-5011.

Kim, D. and Park, M., 2020. A Study on the Factors Influencing the Body Dissatisfaction and Eating Disorders of Female Social Network Service Users: Focusing on Objectification theory and Social Comparison theory. Fashion & Textile Research Journal22(4), pp.469-480.

Mowatt, R.A., 2017. A critical expansion of theories on race and ethnicity in leisure studies. In The Palgrave handbook of leisure theory (pp. 577-594). Palgrave Macmillan, London.


Milgram’s Theory

What is the role of argumentation and rhetoric in Milgram's experiments? Do orders need to be 'spoken' so that they affect? Discuss with relevance to the above paper.

Stanley Milgram has experimented with a study at Yale University in the early 1960s (In 1963, 1965a, and 1974)regarding the effects of orders and whether these need to be spoken or not. The experiment done by Milgram has shown that people do not follow orders. The experiments have been found out in Milgram's experiment are not demonstrated by obedience.Also, as per the case study, it has been identified that obedience need not be understood as orders from someone who is in authority (Gibson 2019). It has been shown in the experiment that the concept of obedience in the mind of people has been formed wrong.

Milgram's experiment aimed to research obedience that how much people can obey someone's instructions who is in authority or who has the power. The purpose was also to identify whether people agree to obey or do they resist it if obeying involves harming someone. Identifying the degree of common people getting into the commitment of atrocities has also been one of the objectives of Milgram's study (Smeulers2020). To fulfill the aim and objectives of the study, Milgram has done a lot of experiments with some selected participants.

In one of the conditions of Milgram’s experiment, it has been shown that one participant has experimented without receiving any orders for it. The experiment of Milgram still shows that though the participant has not followed any orders, still the person can be considered obedient. It means that obedience does not have a connection with following orders from authorities (Mocanu and Pradai?, 2020). The study of Milgram’s experiment has shown a completely new aspect of obedience which shows that receiving and following direct orders is not necessary to be obedient.

The study of Milgram draws attention to the levels of argumentation and resistance in the experiments done by the experimenters. This has made the role of argumentation important in Milgram’s experiment. The study has shown that when the orders have been issued by the experimenter, the participants show resistance to the same and that too in a fair manner (Kaposi 2017).Also, it has been found out from the study that the timing of attempts of participants at defiance has been regular. The argumentation in Milgram's experiments, playing a vital role shows that in comparison to obedience, defiance has been found more common.

The argumentations regarding resistance to obedience by the participants have been a common part of Milgram’s study. As per the case study of Milgram's experiment, it has been identified that the participants can be assessed based on the degree to which they are resistant to obedience (Gibson2019). Based on participants' assessment, the study has identified that the resistant effects of some participants are greater as compared to others. But there are cases where experimentations need to be done with the non-resistant participants. Experiments’ rhetorical nature under Milgram’s study shows the absence of argumentation many times. In the complete absence of argumentation, it is suggested for Milgram's study to consider the cases where the obedience is defined in an expanded manner and the conception of rhetoric nature of the experiment is also expanded.

The importance of the role of rhetoric is undeniable in Milgram’s study because the nature of Milgram’s experiment has been defined as rhetoric (Gibson et al, 2018). In some conditions of Milgram’s experiment, the tools of rhetoric and discursive psychology have been focused upon and also been analyzed qualitatively. These tools have been majorly focused on the conditions of touch-proximity experiments (Das 2020). It was a series of experiments to test proximity in both psychological and physical sense of the victim. To test the tools of rhetoric psychology, the experiments over touch-proximity have been done in a completely different condition as compared to other conditions of Milgram's experiments. Like, in usual and other conditions, the learner and teachers are in different rooms, but in the touch-proximity experiments, they both be in the same room. The results of the condition have been tested with rhetoric and discursive psychology tools.

The touch-proximity experiment of Milgram's study was a shock experiment. It has raised many questions in the University regarding the ethics of conducting research and doing experimentations scientifically. It is because throughout the experiment, as it involved giving shocks, the participants had to go through physical pain and emotional stress as well. The experiment has been criticized by other people but the people who have participated had completely different views about it. They have been glad to be a part of the experiment and the study overall.

It has been identified with the study that the orders need not be spoken directly to influence the participant. Milgram's experiment has emphasized majorly on the features of obedience, the role of rhetoric, and argumentation. The results of experiments in regards to obedience have shown that direct and spoken orders are no longer a characteristic of obedience (Gibson 2017). Also, it has been identified that to understand this completely new concept of obedience, a psychological toolkit like rhetoric tools is required. Regarding authority, the study has shown that in the context of social relations, it is no longer required to exercise it overtly. Instead, the regulation of self is in the hands of people themselves. As per the experiment, the experimenter is not just the person who has authority in their hands, but the aura of authority is wider. The whole system of which the experimenter is a part has the authority to regulate the behavior of participants and the participants fall under that system itself. This is why they have the authority to regulate themselves, their behavior.

As per the case study, the role of argumentation and rhetoric has been important and undeniable, but due to the standard treatment of experiments in the study, this important role has been suppressed very dominantly. Also, to emphasize moreover on obedience and the features of obedience, the levels of defiance have been downplayed in some conditions as compared to the conditions in which it was very high. Due to the suppression of the role of rhetoric and argumentation, understanding the rhetoric nature in a broad sense has been a challenge.

With the results of the conditions of Milgram's experiment, it has been identified that argumentation and resistance are not required as such to understand the rhetoric nature of the study and to know the centrality of the same (Gibson2020). The understanding of rhetoric is defined in the study as very wide. It has been defined that rhetoric needs to be understood beyond human actions. The experiments and the nature of the study of Milgram have shown that the role and importance of rhetoric need not be just understood and defined in words. Instead, it is more than that and it needs to be in-built all over the system.

The concept of rhetoric needs to be part of the whole system's functionality, it kinds of supports the argument of denying the necessity of direct and spoken orders for obedience. This supports the argument in a way that when rhetoric is the part and the base of a wider system where both participants and the experimenter is present, the system just needed to fulfill its job which is persuading people to complete certain things which are needed to be done by them anyhow. The results of Milgram's experiments have shown that if direct orders needed to be given or if the orders needed to be spoken, then the system somewhere is failing to be rhetoric and to be persuasive (Gibson2019). The direct orders as per Milgram's experiment demonstrate the weakness of authority. The spoken orders, as per the case can be understood as the signals of insufficient and non-persuasive systems, institutions.

The criticism of Milgram's experiment has not been only regarding giving the stress to the participants physically, but people have also criticized the study for damaging the dignity and self-esteem. The other researchers at Yale University have criticized that Milgram, through his experiment to achieve the study aim, has harmed the participants very deeply in the psychological sense. The researchers have not just criticized the experiment because it has caused physical discomfort to the participants, but more criticism has been given for the emotional disturbance to the participants.

Damaging self-esteem has been one of the severe criticism of Milgram's experiment. The researchers have said that conducting experiments where participants are stressed and then accepting the results of such experiments have been the major causes of the allegations on experiment for damaging dignity and self-esteem. But the participants and Milgram have not agreed with what other researchers have said and the way they have criticized the experiment. Instead, they have seemed happy about the experiments being done and the results as well. It is because, by the study, Milgram and the whole University got to know a new concept of obedience and orders.


Choi, H., Dowell, N. and Brooks, C., 2018. Social comparison theory as applied to MOOC student writing: Constructs for opinion and ability. International Society of the Learning Sciences, Inc.[ISLS]..

Das, K.K., 2020. Milgram’s Experiment: Obedience or Emotional Adaptation on Empathy Emotional Scale?. Social Sciences9(1).

Gibson, S., 2017. Developing psychology’s archival sensibilities: Revisiting Milgram’s ‘obedience’experiments. Qualitative Psychology4(1), p.73.

Gibson, S., 2019. Obedience without orders: Expanding social psychology's conception of ‘obedience’. British Journal of Social Psychology58(1), pp.241-259.

Gibson, S., 2020. ‘We have a choice’: Identity construction and the rhetorical enactment of resistance in the ‘two peers rebel’condition of Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiment. European Journal of Social Psychology.

Gibson, S., Blenkinsopp, G., Johnstone, E. and Marshall, A., 2018. Just following orders? The rhetorical invocation of ‘obedience’in Stanley Milgram's post?experiment interviews. European Journal of Social Psychology48(5), pp.585-599.

Kaposi, D., 2017. The resistance experiments: Morality, authority and obedience in Stanley Milgram's account. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour47(4), pp.382-401.

Mocanu, L. and Pradai?, D., 2020. Obedience to Authority: Milgram Contributions. New Trends in Psychology2(1).

Smeulers, A., 2020. Milgram Revisited: Can we still use Milgram’s ‘Obedience to Authority’Experiments to Explain Mass Atrocities after the Opening of the Archives? Review Essay. Journal of Perpetrator Research3(1), pp.216-244.

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