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Roles

 

Explanations > Theories > Roles

Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

People will fall rapidly into the expectations they have about the roles they take. In groups these take the form of shared expectations of behavior.

A trap of roles is that the role can literally take you over and you can forget your real values and beliefs.

Research

Stanley Milgram took people off the streets and put them into a role of interrogator. Within a short time they were administering what they thought were very painful electric shocks to their screaming victim.

Philip Zimbardo put students into a mock situation of prison guard and prisoner. The ‘guards’ soon became aggressive and threatening whilst the ‘prisoners’ became passive and withdrawn.

Example

In many groups, one person plays the joker, making and getting away with cracks that others would not contemplate.  

So what?

Using it

Assume a role where you are in charge or a trusted advisor. Then tell other people what to do (putting them into the roles you want them to play).

Defending

Do not accept blindly the roles that other people take, nor the roles they foist on you. Base relationships on evidence, not stereotyped roles.

See also

Deindividuation, Stereotypes

http://www.prisonexp.org/

http://home.swbell.net/revscat/perilsOfObedience.html

References

Milgram (1963,1983), Zimbardo (1969, 1974)

 

Milgram video:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=w1u4wfRhKrY

 

Zimbardo video (5 parts)

http://youtube.com/watch?v=v5OHkcXXxVg

http://youtube.com/watch?v=kDY7rtg7eYs

http://youtube.com/watch?v=V8xZDzy6P5w

http://youtube.com/watch?v=HTzQHcl88h8

http://youtube.com/watch?v=51-0c8cDFR0

 

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