Last semester, I was working on a project with a school that is specialized in special needs’ education. I had a wonderful experience by getting exposed to such a pure world that’s full of faith and determination. The project’s objective was to change people’s schemas and construal toward kids with special needs. We wanted to change those looks that are full of pity; we wanted to tell people STOP DISCRIMINATING. Those kids have different needs than that of the others, consequently, they have different abilities that are nevertheless brilliant. Therefore, we wanted to show the world that those kids are capable of things that we are not. So why the pity look? Why the prejudice against them. Most of us think that we empathize with those kids and their families. And that we appreciate their different needs. In fact, most of us hold a modern racism and in reality people actually sympathize and not empathize. Moreover, they have some stereotypes that lead to prejudice against them. Unfortunately, one of the most prejudice behaviors that I’ve witnessed is that I saw mom’s trying to take their kids away from playing with other kids that have special needs as they want to “protect” their children from them. For me this is the rudest thing anyone could do. Children are socialized and primed to perceive the other kids with different needs as “out- group” this is a result of the institutional discrimination that is present in most of the schools in Egypt. Schools either have a special needs section that is usually full of corruption or they don’t even accept them. You don’t find classes that integrate special needs with other students. Therefore, according to the social learning theory, children learn this social behavior by observing their school teachers and others around them and imitate them. While the injunctive norms dictate that we should not discriminate those kids and that we should behave in appreciation for their different abilities. Yet, the descriptive norms don’t match those injunctive norms and people act differently toward those kids regardless of it being disapproved. People’s automatic thinking makes them judge people for their disability before getting to know who they really are. They automatically make the discrimination and behave accordingly. This video portrays the fact that even if some people have different abilities they can still live like others. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StwSnjtMkxQ I believe that the extent of the support and respect that the people surrounding them show them and treat them as being alike without showing any kind of discrimination the more likely that the differences are eliminated. Or else self-fulfilling prophecy will take over and they won’t be able to see that they are capable of living like everyone else on this planet they will conform to the stereotype threat and will live their lives as different and isolated.
For me the answer for the ongoing debate of whether we are good, bad, both or neither lies in one thing. I believe that people have the potentials to be good and to be bad; it all needs a stimulus that triggers the good in you or the bad in you. We are born with a box of “tools” that are ready to be used whenever they are needed. Yes they are people who are more likely to be aggressive than others. However, the greatest dilemma is when the same person acts aggressively in times and empathizes at other times. This is basically because, this person’s self-esteem will be threatened .Accordingly, he/she would need to increase his/her cognitive dissonance to accept the fact that he/she wasn’t able to empathize in that situation and what’s even worse he/she acted aggressively . Therefore, if the person chose the strategies of justifying the behavior or creating a new cognition, he/she will more likely to repeat his /her aggressive behavior. Moreover, another possibility would be running in the viscous circle of self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, people that were hurt by that person’s aggressive behavior might judge him/her for being an aggressive person in general because they don’t realize the power of the situation on that person. Consequently, they’ll construe schemas for that person as being aggressive and will treat him/her accordingly. Therefore, it will backfire, and that person might start believing that he/she is actually an aggressive person and in fact he/she would become aggressive.
This person could be any of us. The Frustraton- Agression Theory relates to most of us especially in times like these, finals week. The amount of pressure that we are subjected to makes us feel so vulnerable. At these times we find ourselves less likely to help others, have a pro-social behavior. Unfortunately, we sometimes find ourselves not helping the closest of people who might be family or friend. That is to say, we might be even falsifying the concept of “kin selection.” Altruism barely exists in times like this. We are too concerned with the deadlines that we have to the extent that we might give an impression of being selfish. Simply because, you are always not available, you are in hurry and you are too consumed with what you to do. However, you’ll find an increasing trend of norm reciprocity, we sometimes stop to help our collegues that we find in trouble because w simply expect that this will increase the likelihood that they’ll help us back. Since we are somewhat in the same group “being AUC Students” we share the same environment and we tend to have empathy for each other as an ingroup members. I believe that our situation is well explained by the Urban Overload Hypothesis, we are too overwhelmed that we don’t even notice what we are missing out, we avoid any distractions cause we simply “have enough.”
The fact that I’m using my controlled thinking with some introspection I believe that it ill make a difference in the future as I’ll be aware of the stimulus and my behavior will make me be able to control my behavior in the future.