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Understanding the Minority within a School Setting

Introduction

‘Excluded From Humanity: The Dehumanizing Effects of Social Ostracism’ is an article written by Brock Bastian and Nick Haslam. Here, the authors discuss the effects of being excluded from humanity within different contexts. The authors managed to conduct two separate studies in which they found out that ostracizing people made them think of themselves, and those ostracizing them, as less human. The article ‘Social Exclusion Decreases Prosocial Behavior’ written by Twenge, Baumeister, DeWall, Ciarrocco and Bartels agrees on the subject, stating that people who are socially excluded are less likely to feel like a part of their society. This basically implies that when someone feels excluded, he/she is likely to develop feelings of conflicted self identity and question his/her position within the society. Such individuals are also likely to resent those who are excluding them. The authors were able to conclude from their study that people generally judged themselves and those who ostracize them as less human. This means that at times, people are likely to judge themselves harshly for the way they are treated by others. This explains numerous issues within the context of school life. Some people allow themselves to be mistreated by others and they do not complain or even retaliate simply because they feel like they deserve it in some way. They develop resentment towards those who mistreat them but they rarely try to correct the situation. This research paper provides a review based on the two articles namely: ‘Excluded From Humanity: The Dehumanizing Effects of Social Ostracism’ by Brock Bastian and Nick Haslam and ‘Social Exclusion Decreases Prosocial Behavior’ by Twenge, Baumeister, DeWall, Ciarrocco and Bartels. In the review, the paper first provides a summary of the two articles, highlights the main concerns raised in the articles and the findings. Also, the paper analyses the major issues raised in both articles.

Articles Summary

In the article, ‘Excluded From Humanity: The Dehumanizing Effects of Social Ostracism’, the authors conduct two different studies in order to establish how significant the need to belong is to the human individual. According to Bastian and Haslam (2010), the concept of dehumanization is seen as a removal from social existence, where people generally exclude themselves mechanically and emotionally, thus disregarding their position as social beings and failing to look at others as partners or even fellow humans. As such, someone who is ostracized is excluded from the society in a way that renders them dehumanized since they are no longer accepted as fellow human beings or partners in a social setting. The participants for both studies in this case were undergraduate students aged from 17 years to 56 years (Bastian & Haslam, 2010). In each study, there were at least 71 participants actively taking part in the experiments. It can be appreciated that this study was conducted within a school setting, and the participants have to present their own perceptions regarding what they think of themselves and what they think of others, as well as what they think others think of them.

Social Exclusion Decreases Prosocial Behavior’ by Twenge, Baumeister, DeWall, Ciarrocco and Bartels on the other hand considers the implications of social ostracism in the life of the victim. According to these authors, the people who are socially excluded are likely to suffer in terms of their self esteem and sense of belonging. This means that they will feel inadequate amongst their peers, and thus it is understandable that in some cases they will blame those excluding them for their predicament. The participants in this case participated less in prosocial activities such as donating money to a charitable cause, volunteering for projects at the laboratory or even helping out those in need around them. Having thought of themselves as socially excluded, they were unable to feel as a part of the society and thus, they opt to keep to themselves. The findings indicated that being ostracized greatly affected their sense of belonging and made them doubt their position within a given community.

Main Concerns

In the first article, Bastian and Haslam (2010) asked the participants of the first study to rate themselves within circumstances in which they experienced social exclusion or social inclusion. The idea was to get to understand how people perceive themselves when they are faced with social exclusion. This study also required the participants to rate the individuals who were excluding them within that particular situation. This means that the focus was on the traits of humanness or inhumanness associated with social exclusion. In the second study, Twenge, Baumeister, DeWall, Ciarrocco and Bartels (2007) were interested in establishing what the participants thought were perceived of them by those who excluded them. This means that the participants were asked to look at themselves through what they thought would be the eyes of those who did not value them. In this study, it was established that excluded people believed that those who excluded them saw them as less human (Bastian & Haslam, 2010). In the second article, the participants were observed in order to find out how they would behave within certain circumstances, having been manipulated by the researchers to believe that they were being socially excluded.

Findings

In the first article, it was defined that the participants did not feel very confident when they were being excluded (Bastian, & Haslam, 2010). The participants felt less human in that they were not accepted within the society. Also, participants did not appreciate the people who made them feel excluded, and they described them within the contexts of dehumanization as well. This means that upon exclusion, the victims may not like the people who ostracize them but they also do not like themselves that much. The participants blamed themselves to some extent for the exclusion that they face, in most cases considering their weaknesses as the reason for the exclusion. In the second article, written by Twenge et al. (2007), the participants simply did not appreciate being socially excluded and this led them to withdraw from their society and resent those who excluded them. In an ideal situation, this would mean that the people perpetrating the exclusion are right and thus, they can be blamed for the effects of the exclusion on the individual. This explains why they only ended up with in-built resentment and ideas of dehumanization rather than acting out or seeking explanations regarding what was going on in the study.

Analysis

In order to understand social exclusion and its impact on the individual, there are three main considerations that one must make. First, one should consider the method used to collect data and really understand what the participants were going through at the time when they were socially excluded. The analyzed articles are mainly about how people feel when they are excluded socially by others. In a school setting, it is common for the students to feel left out by their peers especially if they are considered a minority based on their ethnicity, weight, learning abilities, height or even social status among other things (Twenge, Baumeister, DeWall, Ciarrocco & Bartels, 2007). The authors here were able to allow the participants to self-report in order to fully appreciate the significance of what they had to go through while being ostracized and while excluding others (Bastian, & Haslam, 2010). If the researchers were to observe the participants in a controlled environment they may not have been able to capture their feelings as precisely as they were able to when they used self-reporting. This part indicates the significance of self-reporting over observation. There are situations in which self-reporting may not be as effective; however, here the study required an understanding of the feelings, thoughts and perceptions of the participants. It can, however, be appreciated that in the second article, the authors were able to observe the participants after manipulating them into thinking that they were being socially excluded. They observed their tendencies with regards to prosocial behavior in order to establish how these people felt towards others in their society.

The second significant consideration would be regarding the participants’ self-reporting. Having established that this was the best way to collect all the relevant data in the first study, it is important to understand the level of accuracy that can be expected when using self-reporting. The authors trusted that the participants would fully explain their thoughts and perceptions but they also used a guiding scale to measure these feelings in a way that would be relevant to the study (Bastian, & Haslam, 2010). This implies that while the participants may not have been fully trained on the scale with which their feelings and perspectives were being measured, they would still be able to provide the researchers with relevant responses and outcomes for the study. This suggests the need for a system with which answers from participants can be interpreted for the purpose of the study in question (Kalat, 2013). Thus, it is always important to look at the collected data and analyze it in a way that is relevant to the study in question. For example, the participants in this case were being studied for their feelings and perceptions while being socially excluded. This implies that they had to report the exact feelings and perceptions towards themselves and the people who were excluding them. The need for guidance in the representation of facts in this case is well emphasized.

Conclusion

This particular subject of study is interesting because a lot of people find themselves in situations in which they are socially excluded either as a result of their actions or because of factors that are beyond their control. Both articles in this case are very informative regarding the experiences and effects associated with social ostracism. The authors use self-reporting and observation in an experimental setting to find out how being excluded affects the individual and they establish that people who are socially excluded have low self esteem, low sense of belonging and in some cases may exhibit resentment and even anger towards those who exclude them. People became less prosocial once exposed to ostracism, meaning that they were unable to feel a sense of belonging or claim their position in the society.

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