Our society interpret a person’s outer appearance as a reflection of their inner- self. This is likely due to Heuristics. In the case of representativeness heuristic, a judgement regarding the person would be determined by the by the outward clues that the person reflected of themselves. One outward clue is the appearance of a person. If a person is neat in appearance and dressed in something like gothic-garb (black clothes and makeup). A person dressed in such a way could be judged as dark and extreme. This would be a fair assumption given that the person dressed in such a manner is in control of their appearance and desires to exude such an image. Arguments can be made to support and dispute impression formed by heuristic judgement. The phrase, “You can’t judge a book by its cover” comes to mind. Surely it would be an ideal world if everyone was judged by their individual traits instead of what they look like. Studies by Berkowitz, Snyder, and Uranowitz (1978) found that social behavior seems to be influenced not simply by objective environmental stimuli, but also by the subjects tendency to interpret these stimuli selectively attend to them, and selectively recall them. But it’s human nature to develop a first impression when coming in contact with any new stimuli, be it person, place, or thing. Therefore it is rational for a person to form opinions of an individual based on their outward appearance.
Question 2. Watch the news reports (or think of previous ones) of extreme acts of behavior. Can you find evidence that news analysts overemphasize drastic causes in reporting the news? Does reporting acts of terrorism, for instance, lead us to distorted perception of the views of the average resident of the terrorist’s home countries?
I believe that news reports do overemphasize the news stories that they are reporting to some extent. I believe that the sensationalism is prompted by the capital that is available to shows with high ratings. While it is important to have information
available to the public, it is paramount to report the information to the public in a responsible manner. To report a story responsibly does not mean editing the contents of a story, but not promoting hysteria to the viewers or listeners. This could be more of a balancing act between trying to give ample information and facts, yet not overdue it.
Stories that come to mind to serve as examples for this subject are: high school shootings, Y2K, middle-easterners caught at border crossings with explosives, and nerve gas terrorists attacks. In my opinion all of these stories were important to report. The high school shooting coverage touched the hearts of many and brought the reality of such a tragedy right into the homes of America. This story very well may of helped saved lives. Schools, have developed security systems to control just who goes in and out of the school along with video monitors. Some schools – mostly high schools, felt it necessary to put in mental detectors to insure the safest environment for their student body. I think that the depth of reporting in-depth reports on the students who
committed the shootings helped parents, teachers, and counselors identify a student with a potential problem who may be at risk for this type of behavior. The awareness that this story brought to others may of helped some identify risks, but it also caused some hysteria among some. The Cannon-Bard theory(Cannon, Lewis & Britton,1927) suggests that a person would react to such news stories with a commonsense prospective. According to this theory we would experience both physiological signs of emotion and subjective experiences. In the example of the news reports on the high school shootings, tears and fears would be both the physiological emotion and subjective experiences.
In contrast the James-Lange theory (James 1890) suggests that our subjective emotional experiences are the result of our automatic physiological reactions to various events. This would mean that the emotions we felt were prompted by our physical state. In this example the tears would cause the feelings of fear and sadness.
I do believe that reporting acts of terrorism does mold our views of the home countries that the terrorists come from. I don’t think that can be avoided – or should be avoided. To report the facts of the terrorist acts fairly is all a responsible new show can offer. We, as humans have free will and the ability to draw conclusions from information that we gather throughout our lives. Our mental reasoning is composed of schemas. Schemas help process information and interpret situations and stimuli according to data we’ve processed from past experiences. Prototypes are mental models for the typical qualities or groupings of categories that are composed from an individuals experiences of acquired knowledge.
We are prone to having our opinions shaped by the news reports that we see about terrorists. This could prompt a negative opinion about the homeland of the terrorists. That can’t be avoided. The human psyche is compose of schemas and depends on prototypes to drawn logical conclusions. Since humans can rationalize, we are capable of weighing the information on a case by case basis and not just make blanket opinions of situations, in this case the countries that terrorists come from. Making blanket judgements could be considered stereotyping and can be considered prejudice.
Baron & Byrne, Social Psychology p. 82