Social psychology, (cross-)cultural issues and political psychology 2

[6 abstracts]

1. History and its comprehension – Cognitive infrahumanization in contemporary history textbooks and lay narratives  
Vincze O.
University of Pecs, Institute of psychology, Pecs, Hungary

Infrahumanization is currently one of the most studied topics in social psychology. Several studies have pointed out that people tend to ascribe the essential human characteristics to the ingroup, while these characteristics are denied to the outgroup. This phenomenon was demonstrated to be related to emotions (Leyens et. al. 2000) and also, in a broader sense, to mental states (Kozak, 2006). The psychological significance of this latter, the so called cognitive infrahumanization was the focus of our research. Ten historical events as portrayed in contemporary history schoolbooks and in lay narratives were analyzed according to the distribution of cognitive state verbs and expressions. Results show that while history textbooks tend to ascribe cognitive sates in an equal proportion to in- and outgroup, in lay narratives in the case of negative events cognitive actions are attributed almost exclusively to the outgroup.

2. Does the perceived solution of historical conflicts have an effect on linguistic intergroup bias and infrahumanization?  
Szabo Z. P., Laszlo J.
First author's affiliation: University of Pecs Psychology Department, Pecs, Hungary

This study examined linguistic intergroup bias and infrahumanization in relation to historical conflicts between national groups. Linguistic intergroup bias is the tendency to describe positive in-group behaviors and negative out-group behaviors more abstractly than negative in-group behaviors and positive out-group behaviors (Maas et al, 1989; 1996). To illustrate the LIB, the Linguistic Category Model (LCM) was used in this current research (Semin and Fiedler, 1989; 1991). We also tried to examine the hypothesis of infrahumanization which suggests a preferential attribution of the “human essence” to in-groups, independent of in-group favoritism (Haslem et al, 2005; Leyens et al, 2003). We tried to measure the perceived solution of historical conflicts. In this way a historical conflict is placed on a continuum between "terminated" and "unterminated". We also tried to examine whether the type of identification with one's nation influences linguistic bias and infrahumanization or not (Roccas&Klar, 2006). In our first study participants were presented with single-frame drawings in which a people performed a certain behavior. The people on the drawings were introduced as a typical Austrian, Hungarian, Lithuanian or Romanian people. We used a fixed-response scale format controlling for the level of abstractness developed from LCM. We also asked the participants to choose primary and secondary emotions which the picture target might felt. In our second study participants were presented with the same drawings, but this time we used a free-response format. We also asked the participants to rate primary and secondary emotions which the picture target might felt. The participants of our studies only showed linguistic bias and infrahumanization towards out-group members where the in-group and the out-group have an unsolved historical relationship. The type of identification had no effect on linguistic bias and infrahumanization.

3. The effects of national identification and perceived solution of inter-ethnic conflicts on the use of linguistic categories (infrahumanization, LIB, agency)‏  
Banga C., László J.
First author's affiliation: University of Pécs, Institute of Psychology, Pécs, Hungary

Linguistic inter-group bias is the tendency to describe positive in-group behaviors and negative out-group behaviors more abstractly than negative in-group behaviors and positive out-group behaviors. Infrahumanization paradigm suggests a preferential attribution of “human essence” to in-groups, independently of the valence of emotions. Identification with a nation is usually disentangled into two types: patriotic versus nationalist, and it has a mediating role in inter-group emotions. In our study, the subjects first fulfilled a national identification questionnaire. Then, they were consecutively presented with eight photographs depicting “good” and “bad” historical events as well as positive and negative emotional events where the group-identity of the participants was not identifiable. Labels of the participating groups were systematically varied. We used Hungarian as in-group and Romanian, Polish, Lithuanian, Serbian, Croatian, and Slovakian as out-groups. As dependent variables subjects had to choose between three or four different picture captions. These were varied systematically in linguistic abstraction and in type of emotions (primary versus secondary). Finally, subjects fulfilled a questionnaire about how they perceive the conflicts with these nations. The results showed that subjects with a nationalist attitude expressed a stronger tendency to infrahumanization regardless of the conflict. They also expressed a stronger tendency to linguistic intergroup bias, but only toward those nations with which they perceived an unsolved conflict.

4. Identity and behaviour patterns in the text of literary works approached by narrative psychology  
Kopasz F.
University of Pécs, Faculty of Humanities, Institute for Psychology, Pécs, Hungary

Texts of literary works allow handing down the past to generations getting farer and farer from events in time by enabling them to have personal experience of history. They help us to remember, attach and draw behaviour patterns from them. The narrative principle was extended to national identity by Assmann. It is through literary texts that we have a personal experience of the content of belonging together shaped from the interpretation of the common past, history. Since the universal world view of the Middle Ages dissolved coherence between individual members of mankind has been ensured by the feeling and awareness of belonging to a nation, which becomes available to individuals in texts, who turn into members of the social large group through integration into society. The use of narrative psychology as an approach and method for handling the subject of national identity represented in literary texts (primarily in historical novels) has been initiated by János László. The analysis is based on the view as a fact that national identity, the content, issues of the awareness of the nation are closely related to the interpretation of the past of the nation. It is in the wake of these thoughts that we draw a parallel between awareness of the nation and history, culture and identity. The elements of the awareness of the nation arise from the interpretation of history, which interpretation is conveyed to the individual by culture (too). And nation as a social large group provides the individual getting integrated into society with a framework of reference. The novel that provides the basic text of the analysis serves to characterize group identity. The key point is what literature carrying identity conveys to the reader and how this message can be grasped. We highlight elements (of psychological significance) that can be grasped from, are manifested in the quasi statements and constructed world of literature regarding the relation between the individual and the group. We gather types of action, behaviour patterns, evaluating statements; we determine the characters’ functions and the properties implied by actions. The latent levels of meaning of the text readable between the lines, manifested in the background, its stylistic content, aspects of interpretation in literary history are not included in the scope of the narrative psychology analysis. It is in its approach and method that this narrative psychology analysis addressing the issue of identification primarily in historic novels carries a new element.

5. Politics and the need for closure – In what sense are people with a higher need for closure more flexible?  
Harsányi S., Csanádi A.
First author's affiliation: University of Szeged and ELTE University, Budapest, Szeged, Hungary

Cognitive style is a theory that explains how and in what ways we organize the pieces of information we have about society and the people living around us. Rokeach, the originator of the theory identified two styles of information processing: an open approach, capable of individual consideration, and a closed one, characterized by less flexibility and refinement. This theory was amended by Kruglanski, who pointed out that cognitive closure is situation dependent and that the motivational background of the individual should be taken into account. Over the last few decades, several authors have found connections between political conservativism and closed thinking, while others argued that a high need for closure is equally present in the political Left. We asked 330 university students to answer the survey we created by translating Kurglanski's original Need for Clousure Scale survey to Hungarian. The survey provides a statistically reliable means of measurement, making it a possible first Hungarian version. In addition, close to half of the respondents (N=150) were asked about their political party preference, level of commitment, and specific ideologies. Our hypothesis was that a higher need for closure is present in proponents of both the political Left and Right. This assumption is partially based on the fact that political parties in Hungary do not have such well defined camps of voters as do the parties in more developed democracies. Our results show that there is no significant difference between conservative and socialist voters in terms of the need for closure, while liberals achieved remarkably lower scores. Another interesting result is that those respondents who have changed their party preference since the last elections (two years ago) showed a higher need for closure than those who have not changed their preference.

6. Dreaming of the American Dream – Investigating the representations of social differences in the function of family socialization  
Szabo B.
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary

The most important source of children’s socialization is the family. In this environment we obtain important information which is crucial for latter adaptive functioning in society. Occasionally, this natural process discontinues and the functions of the family are assigned to another institution. The following study examines the effects of different social contexts through children’s representations about social differences. Our research investigates the differences and similarities in the conceptions about wealth and poverty among Hungarian pupils growing up in families and their peers who don't have this kind of stable family background and socialization. We compared the ideas of nearly a hundred primary school pupils (average age=10,2 years) living in families with different socio-economical status and the conceptions of nearly 40 children in State Custody (average age=10,4 years) living in children’s home or at foster parents. Based upon the children’s drawings and structural interviews, we compared the groups’ representations along several indices (e.g. physical, psychological, as well as social characteristics of poor and wealthy people, the causes of their social position, or the degree of reality or fantasy in the drawings). Preliminary results indicate that the representations of children in State Custody differ from the children in families along several lines. We found particular differences in the degree of reality connected to social positions and in the tendency of the attributions. Poverty appears like a hard fact, while wealth is revealed like a kind of an idealized dream in these children’s representations. The results show the dominant effect of the social context on the formation of children's views besides the characteristics of age. Implications of these results are discussed in order to reveal new investigational directions for developing the programs for development and integration.