Us or Them

JaneElliottWhere does the “Us” or “Them” mentality originate?

There’s an evolutionary predisposition to put the needs, ideas and rules or your group first so that you band together, feed and protect each other.

But where does this protection mechanism take us over the line and become prejudice? Could any of us discriminate against anyone different in any way given the right (or wrong) circumstances? How about based on eye color or whether or not you can curl your tongue!

Criminals “Other” people in order to make it easier to hurt or kill them without remorse.

One of our most human abilities is self-reflection.

It’s important to try and understand how to guard against social pressure buy learning to spot yourself and others conforming to group attitudes without question.

Here’s an amazing video on a groundbreaking study of third graders done not by a psychologist, but a now famous teacher named Jane Elliott.

She began with an experiment with a third grade class that might be frowned on today but was very revealing in that it showed just how easily people and kids form prejudices and adopt an us vs them attitude. It also shows how groups make individuals feel less responsible and therefore more willing to give up their own ideas of right and wrong.

Shockingly this experiment has been repeated multiple times and in spite of being told ahead of time that it is an experiment, the outcome is always similar. Disturbing how easily we are influenced by group expectation.

Around the 10 minute mark Elliot shows how expectations influence us. How we perceive ourselves also has a lot to do with how we do in life and the kinds of people we are. And the way others perceive us plays a large role whether we like it or not.

If you look Jane Elliott up on YouTube you will find many fascinating videos. Here is a link to the page on all her studies.

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