Lately there are many questions about the nature of we the people. Why is it that there are people who still believe Sadam had weapons of mass destruction: why do people think the health reform law is either socialist or so afraid of it for some other reason: why did people believe the Republican party was the “Christian” party? Then there are the Pres. Obama questions: How can some people still believe Obama is not a U.S. Citizen: Why do some still believe the President is a Muslim plant? Do you realize that many people believe the President is going to take over the U.S. Either to a be a dictator or to turn it over to a world government? Why such aggression lately. Aggression such as carrying a gun so near the President of the U.S. Aggression such as seen during the health care reform debates in Congress and at the town-hall meetings. The list goes on and on.
There is also the question of how someone can tell people one thing for years then turn around and tell them the opposite is true and many ignore it or choose to believe it. Here is a little poll.
So let us take a look at possible reasons. There are many possibilities depending on the types of psychological or sociological theories and studies you use or choose. Nothing is simple. It is like the old question nature vs. nurture. Are we “Tabula Rasa”, blank slates, when born or ... Then breeding horses, who has the stronger influence on the disposition of the foal, the mare or the stallion? Many have decided it must be the mare as she is in closer contact with said foal. Sounds like a good answer but what about those everyday experiences that happen, those unexpected experiences? Personally I get frustrated with any one answer I want to yell it is all of the above and maybe more. I like to envision Venn or maybe Euler diagrams for such questions.
We don't really know much about humans as individuals or as groups. I, for one, am sure there is so much more to learn. (With the advances of science in the body chemistry, DNA studies and with the new ways of watching the brain without being as invasive, we begin to learn more and more.)
First things first; we are humans. We are part of a group of Animals called Primates. (OK some of us don't even agree with that. For my research and thoughts I accept it.) So look at how Primates act. They have group, herd, characteristics and within that group they are individuals. Some are more “individual” than others. Some lead and some follow usually for the good of the group. There are times when different groups group, for protection against other groups or predators. Then those groups, after the predator is gone, may well turn on each other. I am sure you get the picture. ( We could go even further and look at humans as part of the world or the universe but let's focus in or down a little tighter for these studies. )
We all have certain undeniable things in common. We have, for instance, opposable thumbs, a supposedly large brain for our body size, we have a long developmental period. (Well sometimes I am not so sure that last one shouldn't be an arrested developmental period. We seem, at times, to develop no further.) Again though for the purposes of this writing I accept the long developmental period.
Have you ever noticed that groups basically are made of the followers, submissives, and the leaders or dominators. In a small church congregation you will always have the same people over and over who volunteer and the volunteers that want to lead the volunteers, again the same ones over and over. Then you have the rest of that congregation, the ones who want to come to service or “Sunday school” but want the Minister or the Sunday School superintendent and teacher to tell them what they need to “think” about. Well, the same thing happens in most any group. Think about it. What about PTA groups or what about political groups. At work have you noticed that even among the non-management workers there are groups and the group divisions appear within those small groups. All the groups have the same patterns. The reasons behind each participant, individual, and their fit within the group may be different but the group divides along the same lines.
So now we can begin to look at some of the theories that abound about our individual as well as our group think.
Time, both mine and yours, is a problem. My attention span is pretty short-I am an American.
So I am concentrating a few different theories and studies. But hope to cover several, each in a different post.
Here is a partial list of some I am studying or reviewing: The Authoritarians, Social Darwinism, Just World theories, Bandura's theory of aggression, A study of overcrowding and aggression in rats, Effects of birth-order, some history of Social Movements particularly in the U.S. As I have a hard time with genetics, I won't probably spend much time on that branch of science though I acknowledge much is to be found there. (nope, I don't really believe in Tabula Rasa.)
This will take time and many posts to cover so be patient. I hope both the reader and I can learn a little.
When I find something that surprises me I will try to let you know. If, no when-I know me, I find things I don't like or with which I don't agree I will try to let you know. “Even if it kills me.”
Next: The Authoritarians, By Dr. Bob Altemeyer.