Living Psychology: From the Everyday to the Extraordinary Edited by Jim Turner and Meg John Barker

please use books 1 & 2 use below
Living Psychology: From the
Everyday to the Extraordinary
Edited by Jim Turner, Claire Hewson, Kesi Mahendran and Paul Stevens

Living Psychology: From the Everyday to the Extraordinary Edited by Jim Turner and Meg John Barker
EMA INSTRUCTION: MUST USE
Contents
• The assignment
• Learning outcomes
• Student notes for Part 1
• Relevant material
• Student notes for Part 2
• Relevant material
• Checklist

The assignment
Cut-off date: 24 May 2016
Important: These pages provide guidance on how to write your assignment. Please ensure you read all of this information right through until the checklist at the end.
Before you start work on this assignment, please ensure that you have read the Assessment Guidance specific to this module and are familiar with the advice in Social Sciences Assessment Information. These sources contain support and guidance that you may need in writing your TMA including, for example, advice on plagiarism, referencing and the marking system. Note that failure to comply with relevant guidance could result in the loss of marks or other penalties.
Please note that the regulations on word limits and deadlines for EMAs are different from those for TMAs, so you should check the EMA guidance carefully.
There are two parts to the EMA. Please note that you must complete both Part 1 (essay) and Part 2 (report). The EMA contributes 100% towards your overall examination score (OES). Part 1 carries 50% of the marks for the TMA and Part 2 also carries 50% of the marks.
Part 1: Essay
Drawing on examples from across the module, evaluate the extent to which psychology has explained how people understand either (a) themselves or (b) each other.
Word limit: 1800 words
Part 2: Report
Write a report analysing the (fictional) blog post provided below, drawing on psychological theories and research to explain why the author is making the claims in the blog post. Your report should be suitable for reading by a non-academic audience.
Blog post
Greetings fellow climate-truthers!
I want to write about two things in the news this week that will probably worry you as much as they worry me. The first was an announcement by the President that the Department of Environment is going to treble subsidies for so-called ‘green’ energy. The second was the press release from Gardiner University that claims they’ve ‘confirmed’ that global warming is happening because of carbon emissions. So, the Pres. announces a spending hike and completely coincidentally some ‘research’ comes out that supports it. Does that seem as suspicious to you as it does to me?
Look, the fact is that climate change is a lie. The world is not getting warmer – any of you who had to shovel snow off your driveway in March like I did know that! I don’t care how many pretty graphs the ‘scientists’ put out, we know what the real danger is: an out-of-control government cutting our freedoms (no way I’m giving up my SUV without a fight!) and giving away our taxes to these ‘scientists’! Oh yeah, did you know that? Guess who funded the Gardiner University research? That’s right – the Department of Environment. Do you think they’re doing that for the good of our health, or so that the ‘scientists’ come up with the ‘right’ answers? Well, while you’re thinking about that, guess where the head of the Department of Agriculture – which shares a building with the Department of Environment – got her politics degree? Have ten points if you said Gardiner University! Do you think that’s a coincidence?
If this seems kind of familiar to you, it probably is. For a start, if you look at the climate change websites – the honest ones, not the ones in the pocket of the government and the green lobby – you’ll see that several of them have made this link before (Illuminati-watch did a great piece on it just yesterday). I’m not the only person to have noticed this, and maybe together we can fight back. More importantly, as some other bloggers have said, this could be HIV/AIDS all over again. Remember how the Department of Health convinced everyone that HIV just somehow came out of nowhere in the ’80s and caused an AIDS epidemic? Big Pharma has made a fortune out of that sweet little deal with the government, selling anti-HIV drugs (that probably don’t even work), and it looks like ‘Big Green’ is the next one with its hand in the cookie jar! Add this to the long history of the government using ‘science’ lies to sell us all a story that their paymasters can profit from.
I’ll write more on this later in the week, but for now, don’t let the green-meanies get you down!
Word limit: 1200 words
In the following pages you will find:
• learning outcomes addressed by this assignment
• student notes for each part of this assignment
• a checklist to ensure you have done everything required for this assignment.

Learning outcomes
The EMA assesses the following learning outcomes:
Knowledge and understanding
• Understand a wide range of basic psychological concepts and appreciate how they apply to everyday life.
• Understand how psychology addresses issues of diversity, difference and social functioning.
Cognitive skills
• Describe and evaluate a range of key concepts in psychology.
• Construct arguments based on psychological theories and research findings, recognising the significance of differing approaches and subject positions.
• Identify the strengths and weaknesses of different theories and methodologies in psychology, and the relative value of different sources of data and information.
Key skills
• Carry out directed literature searches to identify a range of sources of information, and apply appropriate criteria to select relevant material for specific purposes.
• Communicate psychological knowledge in a variety of formats suitable for both traditional academic audiences and wider, non-academic audiences.
• Apply an appropriate referencing system.
Practical and/or professional skills
• Produce written work that shows evidence of independent judgement in answer to a set problem.
• Use and recognise critical, evaluative, practical and ICT skills that are highly transferable to workplace and other settings.

Student notes for Part 1
Focus
This part of the EMA is intended to assess your skills of evaluating an issue (psychological explanations of people’s understandings) and using your judgement to select appropriate material to illustrate your points. There are two options from which you can choose: option (a) focuses on how people understand themselves and option (b) focuses on how people understand others. You should only answer one of these options in Part 1 of the EMA, not both. Whichever option you choose, your task is the same: you need to evaluate the extent to which psychology has explained it, basing your answer in examples from across the module.
Command words
The command word in the essay question is evaluate. This means that you will need to make an appraisal of the worth, validity and/or effectiveness of psychological explanations of people’s understanding (of either themselves or others). You should consider the strengths and weaknesses of those explanations, the soundness of the evidence base for them, and/or their usefulness in the real world.
Tips for writing
The essay question specifically asks you to draw on examples from across the module, so when selecting which material to cover make sure you demonstrate a breadth of knowledge (e.g. don’t draw exclusively or very heavily from just one topic, no matter how interesting you find it). It would be appropriate for you to draw on additional material that you have found in your independent study time to help illustrate your points, such as recent research papers that you might have found through the Open University Library. However, you should make sure that you use these to support points that are based on examples from within the module, rather than introducing entirely new topics or areas.
Relevant material
It is up to you to use your judgement to decide which parts of the module you want to draw on to develop and illustrate your answer. Many topics on the module contain relevant examples that you could include in your essay, and there will not be space within the word limit for you to cover everything that might be relevant. You will therefore need to be selective, choosing examples that build a coherent ‘storyline’ for your essay to follow. The lists below give some suggestions for topics that you should consider revisiting when deciding what to include, in the order in which they appear in the module. However, they are not intended to be a ‘menu’ of what you should cover, and you may find other useful examples in other parts of the module. You may also find it useful to review the module consolidation (Week 28), and perhaps also to refer back to the module introduction (Week 1), as this may help you to consolidate your understanding of the connections between different module topics.
Option (a): ‘themselves’
• Week 7: Self-esteem
• Week 10: Nations and immigration
• Week 12: Boundaries of the self
• Week 24: Sex and sexuality
Option (b): ‘other people’
• Week 2: Mindreading
• Week 4: Mindreading difficulties – examples from clinical psychology
• Week 8: Conflict in close relationships
• Week 10: Nations and immigration
DD210-15J
Week 7: Self-esteem
Kesi Mahendran

© 2015 The Open University
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted or utilised in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher.
WEB03819 7
1.1

Contents
• 1 Introduction
• 2 Self-help understandings of self-esteem
2.1 Measuring your own self-esteem
• 3 Everyday perspectives: self-esteem
• 4 The relationship between self-esteem and social networking sites
4.1 Creating a new self online?
4.2 Relationship status: it’s complicated
4.3 Krämer and Winter’s study: offline and online personality
4.4 Social capital or social compensation?
4.5 SNSs and self-esteem: examining the relationship further
4.6 Facebook and self-esteem: a misunderstood relationship
4.7 Facebook and self-esteem: conclusions
• 5 Relational self-esteem and beyond
5.1 Beyond managing self-esteem
• 6 Focus on methods: self-report questionnaires
6.1 Types of scale
6.2 The Thurstone scale and the Guttman scale
6.3 The Likert Scale
6.4 Developing a new self-esteem scale
• 7 Developing your skills: searching for literature in psychology
• 8 Summary
• References

1 Introduction
Have you ever made the excuse that you’re just not yourself today, or perhaps felt that a well-intended gift you received was ‘not really you’? Each of us has some sort of working conception of our ‘self’. Researchers and theorists have long been interested in the way we think about our self (or selves). This week you will examine the nature of our relationship with our selves by focusing on one specific concept: self-esteem.
You will no doubt be familiar with the term ‘self-esteem’; you may even use the term frequently. But where did the concept of self-esteem come from and what precisely does it mean? Over the week you will look at how self-esteem has been defined, explore its origins and consider one key concern: the extent to which, as individuals, we are in control of our levels of self-esteem.
After studying this week you will be able to:
• explain the origins and history of the concept of self-esteem and how it has been defined
• critically examine the notions of self-objectification and body-esteem
• understand the relationship between self-esteem and social networking sites such as Facebook
• measure psychological concepts using self-report questionnaires, a key research method in psychology
• undertake an effective online literature search.

2 Self-help understandings of self-esteem
You will begin this week by examining how self-esteem is currently being defined in self-help campaigns.
Activity 1: Assessing self-esteem campaigns
Allow 20 minutes for this activity
Have a look at the ‘Happy to be Me’ campaign video (there is no need to watch the whole video – the first ten minutes will give you the overall aims of the campaign), then answer the following questions in the text boxes provided. You will refer back to your answers later in the week.
1. What are your immediate reactions to the campaign?
Provide your answer…
2. How is self-esteem defined in this campaign?
Provide your answer…
3. What factors are said to affect self-esteem in the video?
Provide your answer…
4. Do you have any criticisms of the video campaign?
Provide your answer…
5. The campaign assumes that we can manage our self-esteem in a daily way. Do you think this is true?
Provide your answer…
6. The video was made in Australia and is aimed at young people. Do you think it is applicable to where you live and to adults?
Provide your answer…
View discussion – Untitled part
2.1 Measuring your own self-esteem
Before turning to Chapter 4, you will now measure your own self-esteem in order for you to develop more of a sense of how self-esteem is measured and defined. You will use one of the most well-known and frequently used measures of self-esteem: the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965).
Activity 2: Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale
Allow 20 minutes for this activity
Answer the questions in Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale (RSES). At this stage, as a student studying psychology, do not think too deeply about the questions or begin a process of soul-searching; rather, just make a quick decision on the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statements. The focus here is not your actual score, but rather your reflexive processes when answering the questions.
Once you have submitted the questionnaire you will be given a RSES score out of 30 (reported as the ‘grade’.) A score below 15 is considered an indication of low self-esteem and a score of 15 or above is considered an indication of high self-esteem. You will immediately spot that the scoring system does not allow for a ‘moderate’ categorisation of self-esteem level. You will return to this aspect of the scale in the next section.
Note: Once you have completed the scale, return to this activity to reveal the discussion.
View discussion – Activity 2: Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale

3 Everyday perspectives: self-esteem
You should now have a sense of how self-esteem is used by self-help campaigns and how it is frequently measured through the RSES by psychologists. In this section you will look at how self-esteem is understood in an everyday sense. Below you will find the ‘Everyday perspectives’ video for this week, in which people answered the following questions:
• How do you define self-esteem?
• What factors do you think can affect self-esteem?
• Why do you think some people have high self-esteem and others have low self-esteem?
• Can self-esteem be measured?
• Do you ever think about your self-esteem?
Video content is not available in this format.
Everyday perspectives: self-esteem
View transcript – Everyday perspectives: self-esteem
Activity 3: Everyday definitions of self-esteem
Allow 30 minutes for this activity
In this activity you are going to examine everyday understandings of what self-esteem is and the factors that can affect it.
Part 1
Having watched the ‘Everyday perspectives’ video, choose four people featured in the video and then complete the table below based on their responses. You may need to watch the video a few times to complete the activity.
Interactive content is not available in this format.
View description – Uncaptioned interactive content
Part 2
Now that you have assessed the responses of your chosen four people, spend a little time examining what they reveal.
View discussion – Part 2
Now read Book 1, Chapter 4, ‘Self-esteem’, before continuing with this study week.

4 The relationship between self-esteem and social networking sites
Chapter 4 gave an overview of the history of the psychology of self-esteem as well as how self-esteem has been defined by psychologists, by people in everyday contexts and within self-help contexts by the self-help industry. Hopefully you will see that a central concern of self-esteem researchers is the extent to which we as individuals are in control of our own self-esteem. There are two important related questions:
• Can self-esteem be improved?
• Why do some people have higher or lower self-esteem than others?
This can be related to the chapter’s reappraisal of the terms ‘high self-esteem’ and ‘low self-esteem’, which noted that the term ‘low self-esteem’ is often misunderstood. Hopefully you also realised that ‘high self-esteem’ may not be the same as narcissism or self-aggrandising behaviour; rather, it may be a result of sociocultural factors, which affect people differently according to both where they live and the generation into which they were born. As the chapter discussed, ‘Generation Me’ has become a term that refers to a new generation of people, mostly but not exclusively based in Western countries, who are likely to have different attributional patterns and perhaps be more concerned with their own profile than older generations and people based in Eastern countries. However, given globalisation, this is a cultural and generational difference that is likely to be changing. Do social networking sites (SNSs) play a role in this?
The main question in this section, then, is: do SNSs, such as Facebook, play a role in our levels of self-esteem? Cyberpsychology is a new direction in social psychology that aims to examine our relationship to online environments.
Box 1: The Facebook experiment
Facebook made the headlines in July 2014 when it revealed the findings of an experimental study it had carried out using data from over 689,000 Facebook users. Unbeknown to the users, Facebook data scientists Adam Kramer, Jamie Guillory and Jeffrey Hancock (2014) manipulated the program that selects stories to feature on Facebook users’ newsfeeds. A randomly-selected sample of nearly 700,000 Facebook users had their newsfeeds manipulated by the researchers. Some users’ newsfeeds were adjusted so that fewer emotionally negative stories were prioritised in the newsfeed, while others were adjusted so that fewer emotionally positive stories were prioritised. Kramer and colleagues then observed whether users made more positive or negative posts themselves as a result.
The researchers found that people who had viewed fewer emotionally negative stories in their newsfeeds made fewer negative and more positive posts, while those who had viewed fewer emotionally positive stories in their newsfeeds made more negative and fewer positive posts. The nature of the users’ own posts therefore reflected the type of stories they had been exposed to in their newsfeeds. Although the overall effect was small (amounting to approximately one extra positive or negative word per thousand words posted by users), across such a large sample it was statistically significant. The study has given rise to a host of questions concerning the ethics of the experiment, how social networking sites may be manipulating their users, and the possibility of ‘emotional contagion’ (which refers to people synchronising their emotions with each other, often through copying other people’s reactions) among users of social networking sites. It also raises the question of whether social networking sites such as Facebook could have other effects on their users, including affecting their self-esteem.
4.1 Creating a new self online?
At the same time as Facebook’s experiment, cyberpsychologists Sagioglou and Greitemeyer (2014) conducted comprehensive experiments which argued that, rather than improve mood, Facebook could lower mood and increase anxiety, making people feel worse about themselves immediately after using the site. Over the last few years there has also been a series of media articles all suggesting that SNSs such as Facebook risk raising anxiety and lowering self-esteem.
The public and media reactions to the experiment conducted by Facebook are an indication of the extent to which social networking sites have become ingrained in our lives (you will learn more about this in Block 5). The question of whether your preferred social networking site is manipulating your emotions is for only you to answer. The central question in this section is whether people’s online presentations of themselves and their reactions to the SNS can increase or decrease their self-esteem.
So when did social networking begin? Online SNSs have existed since the late 1990s. Zizi Papacharissi (2002) is considered to be one of the earliest investigators of how we present ourselves online. Working in the USA, she investigated how people use website home pages to reflect their personalities online. Papacharissi used four websites available at that time: Yahoo! GeoCities, AOL, The Microsoft Network (MSN) and EarthLink. She identified six factors that motivate people to maintain profile pages:
• passing time
• entertainment
• news (e.g. current affairs)
• self-expression
• professional advancement
• communication with family and friends.
Around the same time, Shaw and Gant (2002) directly measured self-esteem levels of 40 student participants and then set up a series of internet chats among the participants, after which they measured self-esteem levels again. They found improved self-esteem. So in the early days of social networking research, the view was that SNSs were generally positive for self-esteem.
With over a billion users, Facebook is by far the main SNS used across the world (Sagioglou and Greitemeyer, 2014). Facebook started in February 2004 at Harvard University, then opened up to other universities. In September 2006, it was opened to anyone over the age of 13 with a valid email address. Most research into this area now works with Facebook. One of the attractions of such networking sites is the possibility of ‘creating’ a new self. Users of social networking sites can create a new improved self by ‘withholding information, hiding undesirable features and role-playing’ (Mehdizadeh, 2010, p. 358). This is one of the reasons why SNSs are attractive to people. So, if in the late 1990s SNSs were viewed as being able to enhance self-esteem, why have they now become the source of such disenchantment?
4.2 Relationship status: it’s complicated
In the video below, the cyberpsychologist Chris Fullwood talks about the relationship between self-esteem and SNSs.
Video content is not available in this format.
Chris Fullwood: Researching the relationship between self-esteem and social networking sites
View transcript – Chris Fullwood: Researching the relationship between self-esteem and social networking …
Fullwood reveals that studies into the relationship between self-esteem and Facebook are complicated, not least because it depends a great deal on what method you use; that is, either observational approaches or self-report approaches. Different studies draw different conclusions because they are measuring different aspects of SNS use, including:
• frequency of use
• type of use
• presentation of self-image
• reactions to status and activity updates.
Further, some researchers look for changes in mood or self-appraisal after SNS use, whereas others look for a difference in SNS use and therefore start by using the RSES (the self-esteem test you completed in Activity 2) and then divide participants according to whether they have high or low self-esteem. Despite these differences in research design, a picture of the relationship between self-esteem and SNSs is emerging.
Fullwood identifies two factors that changed the relationship between SNSs and self-esteem. First, SNSs such as Facebook now exist in an anchored reality; that is, they are no longer anonymous in the way they were at the time of the Shaw and Gant study. People who are connected to you (as the social networker) can see your profile, therefore your information acquires a degree of permanence. Second, people’s motivations when using sites have changed, which may relate to professional networking, manage impressions or staying in touch with friends and family who live far away.
It is these motivations for using the SNS and the actual nature of the information revealed which Fullwood regards as promising lines of enquiry.
4.3 Krämer and Winter’s study: offline and online personality

Impression management online
View description – Impression management online
Nicole Krämer and Stephan Winter (2008) focus on motivation in their examination of impression management. They focused on the relationship between ‘offline’ and ‘online’ personalities. Their sample consisted of 58 users of StudiVZ.net, a German social networking site similar to Facebook and generally used by university students.
As they explain, when people are on SNSs they ‘cannot tailor their self-presentations to the specific interaction partner since – in contrast to face-to-face interaction – they are addressing a broad audience’ (Krämer and Winter, 2008, p. 106), so they tend to focus on stable traits. Rather than the popular perception that people play with identities or personalities on such sites, their evidence on personality – measured using the RSES scale as well as scales for self-efficacy and extroversion – suggests that people’s personalities offline positively correlate with their personalities online.
They focus on three stable personality traits that have been shown to influence impression management and self-presentation behaviours:
• self-esteem
• extroversion
• self-efficacy.
They asked a specific research question:
Does online self-presentation differ between users with high and low self-esteem?
Pause for thought
Do you think that people categorised as having high or low self-esteem present themselves differently when they are online compared to when they are not? Consider this before revealing the discussion.
View discussion – Pause for thought
So, while social networking is unlikely to be involved in any profound changes in personality, could it affect self-esteem itself?
4.4 Social capital or social compensation?

View description – Uncaptioned figure
If you have a Facebook, or other SNS, account, it’s worth thinking about the way you make use of it. Perhaps it isn’t all about the way you present yourself; it’s also about sustaining relationships with friends and acquaintances. A number of psychologists have looked specifically at this more social aspect of SNSs. Charles Steinfeld and colleagues (2008) were interested in whether Facebook could provide ‘bridging social capital’.
Social capital is a widely adopted term developed by the sociologist Robert Putnam. Putnam distinguished between two forms:
• Bridging social capital: that which we gain from knowing a wide and diverse network of people.
• Bonding social capital: that which we gain from our friends and family.
Steinfeld and colleagues measured the relationship between self-esteem (using the RSES) and bridging social capital for young students, and then measured it again two years later. They divided their sample into high self-esteem and low self-esteem students, then correlated their self-esteem level with the extent of their Facebook use and their bridging social capital.
Pause for thought
Which group do you think gained the most from using Facebook in terms of bridging social capital – those categorised as having low self-esteem or those categorised as having high self-esteem?
View discussion – Pause for thought
You could at this point think, OK, so people who have low self-esteem will compensate by building up more relationships on their social networking sites. This is exactly what Zywica and Danowski (2008) examined. They asked the following question:
Do high and low self-esteem users use social networking sites differently?
(As you may recall from earlier in the week, the RSES forces everyone into one of two categories, high self-esteem and low self-esteem, so unfortunately there isn’t any research based on ‘moderate’ or ‘average’ self-esteem.)
Zywica and Danowski looked at two hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1: social enhancement, which relates to people who have good social skills. This hypothesis is also known as ‘the rich get richer’ hypothesis, as people can build on existing social advantages.
Hypothesis 2: social compensation, which relates to people who have relatively poor social skills in face-to-face encounters. This hypothesis is also known as ‘the poor get richer’ hypothesis, as people can compensate for a lack of social skills.
This argues that those who perceive their offline social networks to be inadequate compensate for them with more extensive online social networks. They found that high self-esteem users did indeed use Facebook differently from low-self-esteem users: ‘A higher percentage of low self-esteem users (27.9%) thought it was at least somewhat important to look popular on Facebook when compared to the high self-esteem users (20.2%)’ (Zywica and Danowski, 2008, p. 17).
They also found that nearly three times as many low self-esteem users revealed more about themselves to people they knew online than they revealed to offline friends. These users explained that there were things about themselves they would reveal to online friends that they wouldn’t reveal to offline friends. Some (around 10 per cent of low self-esteem users) went as far as to admit that their friends and family would be quite surprised by their profile.
4.5 SNSs and self-esteem: examining the relationship further
As you can see from the previous section, the relationship between SNSs and self-esteem is complicated. In the video below, Fullwood, who you first encountered in Section 4.2, further assesses the relationship between self-esteem and SNSs and these two hypotheses.
Video content is not available in this format.
Chris Fullwood: Becoming a different person on social networking sites
View transcript – Chris Fullwood: Becoming a different person on social networking sites
As Fullwood explains, in his view, both the social enhancement and the social compensation hypotheses are correct.
4.6 Facebook and self-esteem: a misunderstood relationship
Section 5 of Chapter 4 introduced the idea of self-objectification – the tendency to view the self as an object from a third-person perspective. Self-objectification has also been examined in relation to SNS use. Here, the results are perhaps a little surprising; rather than a potentially oppressive lens, objectification becomes a means of presenting an idealised version of yourself. So there are two opposing theories:
The hyperpersonal model maintains that treating yourself as an object becomes a means of self-enhancement.
Object self-awareness theory, on the other hand, proposes that focusing on yourself ‘objectively’, say, via a mirror or a photo, will lower your self-esteem due to social comparison; that is, you will unfavourably compare yourself to others.
Amy Gonzales and Jeffrey Hancock (2011) (this is the same Jeffrey Hancock now conducting research on behalf of Facebook) put both theories to the test.
Pause for thought
Do you think that evaluating yourself in terms of an object can be a positive experience, or does it risk lowering self-esteem as predicted by objective self-awareness theory?
View discussion – Pause for thought
Despite these findings, more and more studies continue to argue that SNSs cause loneliness, low self-esteem and anxiety. There are a number of points to draw out from the existing literature. First, you may have realised that there do not seem to be many researchers willing to move away from using scales such as the RSES to measure self-esteem.
Pause for thought
Why do you think so many studies have continued to use the the RSES scale?
View discussion – Pause for thought
4.7 Facebook and self-esteem: conclusions
The activity below allows you to consolidate your understanding of the relationship between Facebook and self-esteem.
Activity 4: Assessing the relationship between self-esteem and Facebook
Allow 20 minutes for this activity
Thinking back to the video of Fullwood in Section 4.5, select which of the three conclusions below best sums up the relationship between SNSs and self-esteem, as described by Fullwood.
a) Conclusion 1: There is no established relationship between self-esteem and SNSs.
b) Conclusion 2: There is a clear relationship between self-esteem and SNSs in that using an SNS can enhance a person’s self-esteem.
c) Conclusion 3: There is a relationship but it is a complicated one. It depends on people’s motivations in using SNSs – what they seek to get out it. What can be said with some degree of certainty is that people with low and high self-esteem can both use SNSs to improve their experiences of the world.

5 Relational self-esteem and beyond
This week you have been examining self-esteem – why people have different self-esteem levels and the extent to which they can maintain or change those levels. You may have noticed that self-esteem is connected to our relationships with other people. Understanding this can therefore help people to manage their self-esteem, which some people are doing through their use of SNSs.
In the video below, Rachel Calogero makes her assessment of some of the campaigns you looked at when you began this study week, and of those within Chapter 4.
Video content is not available in this format.
Rachel Calogero assesses self-esteem campaigns
View transcript – Rachel Calogero assesses self-esteem campaigns
As Calogero explains, there is a chance that such campaigns are somewhat optimistic about the self-esteem concept and how much it really is a measure of our sense of ourselves that varies on a daily basis. To Calogero, while self-esteem is related to our immediate interpersonal relations, it is also related to wider sociocultural occurrences such as objectification. In the video, she explains self-objectification theory in ways which may challenge the optimism of cyberpsychologists who support the hyperpersonal model, which you encountered in Section 4.6.
Pause for thought
Why do psychologists have such different views on the impact of seeing yourself as an object?
View answer – Pause for thought
5.1 Beyond managing self-esteem
Recent studies into the self have moved away from how we think about and present ourselves, whether online or offline, and towards the actions we take. This kind of research often talks about ‘enacting the self’ or the ‘embodied self’. It argues that it is what we do and why we do it that develops our sense of who we are and our purpose in life.
The social psychologist Ian Burkitt (2008) takes this view. He recognises that selves are relational – they relate to our orientation to others, our recognition from others and indeed the responsibility we feel towards others. He argues, however, that today, who we are is not assigned by our social roles or memberships but rather is constantly being made through our daily embodied interactions with others. In this regard, the self becomes more about our interpersonal interactions.
By ‘embodied interaction’ Burkitt doesn’t necessarily mean just face-to-face interaction; he is referring to people’s interactions with their whole physical and mental selves, not just with their thoughts. Our sense of self is not restricted to our thoughts about and attitudes towards ourselves as measured by the RSES. Our self-worth is dynamic; it changes as we move through the world with our individual biographies. Burkitt proposes that acting in relation to personal judgement and our sense of our unique self enables us to be the ultimate authors of ourselves (Burkitt, 2008).
Mark Freeman (2012) proposes that one way to increase our sense of self is to go beyond the boundaries of the self and focus instead on the ‘other’. The other, he clarifies, can be any aspect of life that draws us beyond our own boundaries, such as nature, religion, culture, arts and other people. Freeman terms this engagement with external aspects as ‘thinking other-wise’. In Block 3 you will see how our sense of self can change according to the natural or urban environment in which we live. To Freeman, there is no ‘energy’ in the self; our sense of meaningfulness and nourishment comes from all those aspects of life – music concerts, festivals, creative collaborations, religion or nature – that are ‘external’ to the self. He explains that traumatic events often cause us to appreciate what is really important in life and take us beyond our daily triumphs, irritations and preoccupations. It is in these often ethical moments, when we are called upon to make a judgement about what really matters, that we go beyond the boundaries of the self.

6 Focus on methods: self-report questionnaires
Within this study week and Chapter 4, two main research methods have been explored:
Self-report questionnaires: These questionnaires have been widely used. They are often referred to as ‘scales’ as they attempt to quantify some aspect of our self or personality, usually by making a set of statements about the phenomenon and using a scoring system to rate people’s responses.
Interviews: Interviews are often used by researchers taking a social constructionist or phenomenological approach. They consist of a conversation between the researcher (interviewer) and participant, where the researcher has a list of questions or topics to cover. You will learn more about interviews in Week 9.
In this section you will learn when it is appropriate to conduct a self-report questionnaire and how to design one. In Week 4, Section 10 you were introduced to psychometric testing. In this section you will build on that knowledge to further understand questionnaires used by social psychologists to understand behaviour and inner experience.
In the ‘behind the scenes’ interview with Calogero below, she discusses what it was that inspired her to become involved in this area of research.
Video content is not available in this format.
Behind the scenes with Rachel Calogero
View transcript – Behind the scenes with Rachel Calogero
Calogero discusses the techniques she uses to measure body image and self-esteem. Calogero uses a number of recognised standardised measures, such as the Self-Objectification Scale and System-Justification Scale. Both of these are examples of self-report tests.
6.1 Types of scale
The first step in creating a scale is to develop a detailed understanding of the phenomenon, or ‘object’, that will be measured. Use literature if it exists or, if not, conduct some initial small-scale studies – you could use a few focus groups to uncover any common themes/occurrences.
You may have a preference for a particular type of questionnaire response; for example, you may want your participants to agree or disagree with a set of standard statements, as Rosenberg did. There are three internationally recognised scales: the Thurstone Scale, the Guttman Scale (Figure 1) and the Likert Scale. The Likert Scale is the one most used in self-esteem studies, so you will focus on this scale and use it in Section 6.3.

Figure 1: Using the Guttman Scale to measure social distance
View description – Figure 1: Using the Guttman Scale to measure social distance
Before this, so you have a sense of the variety of approaches, you will briefly look at the other two scales.
6.2 The Thurstone scale and the Guttman scale
All scales tend to use statements that are rated by the respondents. The Thurstone Scale uses statements that are judged by a panel which attaches a weighting to each statement according to how positive or negative the panel considers the statement to be. Thurstone himself was interested in attitudes towards religion.
The Guttman Scale organises the statements into categories based on their relationship with each other, usually from one extreme through a neutral position to another extreme. The most well-known example of a Guttman Scale is the Borgardus Social Distance Scale, which looked at the extent to which different ethnic groups and migrants were accepted in the USA. It presented statements from position 7, such as ‘I would not allow them into my country’, to position 1, which included statements such as ‘I would allow them to marry into my family’. Position 1 indicated a complete absence of what the researchers termed social distance.
The Guttman Scale (now called the Social Distance Scale) is good for measuring social phenomena relating to prejudice, where compassionate understanding and human interaction are deemed positive. For instance, examples of this scale exist for measuring attitudes towards immigrants and attitudes towards people who have mental health issues.
Activity 5: Assessing statements about religion
Allow 15 minutes for this activity
Take people’s attitudes towards religion as an example for creating a scale. First, a researcher would generate several statements about religion. Below are four examples. For each statement, decide whether it is pro-religion or anti-religion:
• People who follow any religion are just deluding themselves.
• Religious beliefs give people a sense of community.
• It is through our religious beliefs that we learn how to live with each other.
• Rational people are usually sensible enough not be religious.
Now give each statement a score, or weighting, based on how pro- or anti-religion you judge it to be. For this example, your score can be between 0 and 5, where 0 is neutral and 5 is either extremely pro- or extremely anti-religion.
Finally, if you pair two statements together that have the same weighting – one positive and one negative – you have developed a Thurstone Scale. If, on the other hand, you order your statements from the most negative to the most positive, keeping the neutral position in the middle of those two extremes, you have developed a Guttman Scale. Regardless of which scale has been developed, participants must then decide whether they agree or disagree with each statement. Their score is then calculated according to the weighting of the statements.
6.3 The Likert Scale
One of the difficulties you may have spotted with Activity 5 is that scoring the statements is a subjective task: while you may have scored one of the statements as 3, a fellow student might score the same statement as 5. Rensis Likert developed his scale primarily to combat this. Rather than weight the statements themselves, the Likert Scale weights people’s responses to those statements. This is why Likert Scales usually have at least four or five response alternatives, such as ‘strongly agree’ through to ‘strongly disagree’. This enables people to assess the intensity of their feelings towards the statements. The statements:
• usually involve a balance of positive and negative statements
• are not themselves weighted
• are calibrated so that they are the same distance from each other in relation to the phenomenon under investigation (which means they are judged to be equal in their likely reaction).
The RSES is a clear example of this kind of scale. Look again at the RSES, which you completed in Activity 2. As Chapter 4 demonstrated, after sixty years this scale is still the most widely used measure of self-esteem. There are several reasons why the RSES is as successful as it is: it is robust, easy to use and reliable.
Pause for thought
Think back to how ‘validity’ was defined in Week 3, Section 7.1. Although it may be reliable, do you think the RSES is a reasonably valid measure of self-esteem?
View discussion – Pause for thought
6.4 Developing a new self-esteem scale
At the risk of being a little ambitious, you can now try to develop a new self-esteem scale. Don’t spend too long on this activity; it is more about getting a sense of the skills needed in order to develop a self-esteem scale, rather than actually developing a new scale for research.
Activity 6: Developing scale statements
Allow 20 minutes for this activity
Part 1
Reassess the key themes that you identified in Activity 3 when watching the ‘Everyday perspectives’ video – those themes that were important to people’s everyday understanding of self-esteem. Now that you have learned more about self-esteem, make your own assessment of three key factors that influence self-esteem and list them here. You can draw from your original response in Activity 1 as well as your response in Activity 3.
Provide your answer…
Part 2
Now use these three factors to create four statements about self-esteem. Write each statement in the first column of the table below and indicate what aspect of self-esteem each statement covers in the second column. Using the third column, decide whether the statements you have created are positive (i.e. an indicator of high self-esteem) or negative (an indicator of low self-esteem).
Interactive content is not available in this format.
View description – Uncaptioned interactive content
Some of the factors you identified may have included childhood, position in society, family relations, and indeed the extent to which people allow incidents to affect them, although you may have thought of others. It is quite hard to turn such factors into statements. For example, if you wrote ‘I was always criticised by my family’, then this could be considered a negative statement which relates to low self-esteem. A statement such as ‘I regard myself to be a part of a stigmatised group’ could again be considered a low self-esteem statement. Conversely, you may have written something like ‘I don’t tend to let things affect me for very long’. This statement could relate to high self-esteem.
Of course, developing a new scale to measure self-esteem is an ambitious task. In reality, psychologists need to assess whether each statement is really measuring the same thing. At this stage of your studies, developing a new scale simply begins with the first few steps you have taken in Activities 5 and 6.

7 Developing your skills: searching for literature in psychology
This week you will develop the skill of searching online for information in psychology. The three activities below guide you through the process, from performing a simple literature search to finding specific information in psychology.
Activity 7: Using ‘Library Search’
Allow 15 minutes for this activity
Go to the ‘Introduction to Library Search’ page of the Open University’s Library Information Literacy website and complete the activity.
Activity 8: Accessing psychology journals electronically
Allow 1 hour for this activity
Go to the ‘Accessing psychology journals electronically’ page of the Open University’s Library Information Literacy website and complete the activity.
Activity 9: Searching for information in psychology
Allow 30 minutes for this activity
Go to the ‘Searching for information in psychology’ page of the Open University’s Library Information Literacy website and complete the activity.

8 Summary
While it can be easy to dismiss the concept of self-esteem or relate it to a very modern preoccupation with the self, it is hopefully clear how ingrained the concept has become within our daily lives. Having studied this week’s materials you should now be able to make your own assessment of what exactly the term ‘self-esteem’ means in different contexts. It could refer to the capacity we have to assess and manage our self-worth, as emphasised by self-help campaigns. Equally, in line with social and counselling psychology, it could be better to understand self-esteem in terms of the ongoing relationships we have with other people, both offline and online. This includes our relationships with the world beyond the boundaries of the self – things that can permeate our sense of self, such as the environment, nature, music, the arts and religion. The study week also demonstrated that people’s levels of self-esteem are always in part related to sociocultural factors, such as the place in which we live, the generation into which we are born and the groups to which we belong.
Having studied the method for this week, you should now also understand the first steps to developing a self-report questionnaire – generating and assessing statements about an object which can be placed on a scale. If you developed some statements about self-esteem you should congratulate yourself – they are not easy to produce. This week you have also developed the skill of searching online for information in psychology.
Research always presents the researcher with a series of trade-offs: if the researcher wants to generate findings that other researchers can consider in order to make generalisations, they tend to use standardised and recognised measures, such as the RSES. However, innovation and insight are born through researchers developing new measures to investigate contemporary psychological phenomena. They can do this by developing new scales or by combining existing scales to provide new correlations, such as the way Calogero correlates the Self-Objectification Scale with the System Justification Scale to provide sociocultural insights into how people can affect their self-esteem in relation to their body image.
References
Burkitt, I. (2008) Social Selves: Theories of Self and Society, 2nd edn, London, Sage.
Freeman, M. (2012) ‘Thinking and being otherwise: aesthetics, ethics, erotics’, Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 196–208.
Gonzales, A. L. and Hancock, J. T. (2011) ‘Mirror, mirror on my Facebook wall: effects of exposure to Facebook on self-esteem’, Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking, vol. 14, nos 1–2, pp. 79–83.
Kramer, A. D. I., Guillory, J. E. and Hancock, J. T. (2014) ‘Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 111, no. 24, pp. 8788–90.
Krämer, N. C. and Winter, S. (2008) ‘Impression management 2.0: the relationship of self-esteem, extraversion, self-efficacy, and self-presentation within social networking sites’, Journal of Media Psychology, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 106–16.
Mehdizadeh, S. (2010) ‘Self-presentation 2.0: narcissism and self-esteem on Facebook’, Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 357–64.
Rosenberg, M. (1965) Society and the Adolescent Self-Image, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press.
Papacharissi, Z. (2002) ‘The self online: the utility of personal home pages’, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, vol. 46, no. 3, pp. 346–68.
Sagioglou, C. and Greitemeyer, T. (2014) ‘Facebook’s emotional consequences: why Facebook causes a decrease in mood and why people still use it’, Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 35, pp. 359–63.
Shaw, L. H. and Gant, L. M. (2002) ‘In defense of the internet: the relationship between internet communication and depression, loneliness, self-esteem, and perceived social support’, CyberPsychology & Behavior, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 157–71.
Steinfeld, C., Ellison, N. B. and Lampe, C. (2008) ‘Social capital, self-esteem, and use of online social network sites: a longitudinal analysis’, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, vol. 29, no. 6, pp. 434–45.
Zywica, J. and Danowski, J. (2008) ‘The faces of Facebookers: investigating social enhancement and social compensation hypotheses; predicting Facebook and offline popularity from sociability and self-esteem, and mapping the meanings of popularity with semantic networks’, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 1–34.

Pause for thought
Answer
The impact of seeing yourself as an object depends a great deal on both context and control – projecting an objectified version of yourself online is somewhat more in your control than it is in working relationships or when out in open public areas, as you have less control of other people’s views in those situations. Although the SNS environment is an anchored reality, there is still an opportunity to present an idealised, enhanced version of ourselves; we are to some extent at play. However, at work or out in a public area, people thinking of themselves as being evaluated as objects, even internalising this third-person perspective, may well have both cognitive and emotional effects on their sense of self. Such distractions can affect a person’s competence in tasks.
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Untitled part
Discussion
It can be useful to look at such campaigns and self-help videos precisely because they reveal how psychological concepts are used in everyday, real-world settings. There can often be some differences between psychological research into an area and everyday understandings of it. Psychologists have sought to understand how people develop a self-concept for a very long time. One of the first people to examine self-esteem was William James in 1890. Chapter 4 of Book 1 gives you a short history of self-esteem starting from James and working forward to current research. You will read Chapter 4 shortly.
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Activity 2: Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale
Discussion
There are several things worth reflecting on now you have completed the questionnaire. Did you have a reference group in mind when making your assessment? Was there a set of ‘others’ to whom you compared yourself (‘Well, compared to so and so, I guess I do have things to be proud of’)? Perhaps you measured yourself against relatives, friends, work colleagues or other students you know, or perhaps you compared yourself against others in a more general way. Sometimes questionnaires – in magazines, work assessments and so on – can arouse a frustration because none of the response options seem applicable. Did you get that feeling from the RSES? Were there some questions you neither agreed nor disagreed with?
The RSES is defined as being a closed-response questionnaire because it does not allow you to elaborate on your responses, give a neutral response or be undecided.
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Part 2
Discussion
Did you notice how many people in the film (e.g. Alex) explained self-esteem as being related to how a person judges themselves and how they react to success and failure? This is related to the idea of ‘bouncing back’ and refusing to react to certain situations, which were discussed in the ‘Happy to Me’ video as being strategies for maintaining self-esteem.
When you completed this activity you may have also noticed how often the respondents related self-esteem, particularly low self-esteem, to other people as well as to wider social factors, such as stigma, privilege or schooling. If self-esteem is related to other people and cultural factors then it may not be all that straightforward to control our levels of self-esteem. This point is examined in Book 1, Chapter 4.
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Pause for thought
Discussion
You might have thought that a positive self-presentation would be associated with a higher level of self-esteem; however, Krämer and Winter found no relationship between high and low self-esteem and online self-presentation. Further, although extroverts were likely to upload less conservative photos of themselves, no conclusive relationship was found between extroversion and online self-presentation.
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Pause for thought
Discussion
They found that ‘[s]elf-esteem served to moderate the relationship between Facebook usage intensity and bridging social capital: those with lower self-esteem gained more from their use of Facebook in terms of bridging social capital than higher self-esteem participants’ (Steinfeld et al., 2008, p. 434).
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Pause for thought
Discussion
Gonzales and Hancock found that evidence supported the hyperpersonal model more than it did objective self-awareness. To put it simply, they found that objectifying yourself could be experienced positively. The researchers concluded that sites such as Facebook have exposed people to objectified evaluations of themselves and that this enhances self-esteem.
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Pause for thought
Discussion
This is mainly the case because RSES continues to be the standard measure of self-esteem in the field. This standardisation means that researchers can immediately understand each other as they are using the same scale. However, if you are critically minded it is worth noting that most of the studies discussed so far are only establishing correlations (see Week 2, Section 6 to remind yourself about correlations).
The only issue is that the direction of the correlation cannot be concluded from such studies. It’s not possible to determine whether SNSs cause changes in self-esteem, or whether they are a means of maintaining self-esteem, or indeed whether self-esteem levels cause changes in how people use SNSs.
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Pause for thought
Discussion
Developing a new scale is very difficult so psychologists often prefer to work with an existing scale. However, if you don’t feel the RSES is a reasonably valid measure, this may prompt you to develop a new scale or a new approach to assessing self-esteem.
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Uncaptioned interactive content
Description
This table can be used for completion of activity 3. The 6 columns are headed with the names of the people depicted in the video: Alex, Noel, Massimo, Bianca, Christopher and Tabitha . The six questions below are placed in the left hand side row . There are ‘ yes/ no ‘ tick boxes for each of the six people for each question:
1. Do they relate self-esteem to other people?
2. Who do they relate self-esteem to?
3. Do they relate self-esteem to childhood experiences?
4. Do they make any reference to culture?
5. Do they relate self-esteem to a person’s achievements?
6. Do you notice and other themes?
The last question provides an open text box.
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Impression management online
Description
In this photograph, a faceless adult points towards a diagram labeled ‘social network’ with their index finger. The diagram looks like a spider web, with nodes representing people and lines representing the web of connections between them.
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Uncaptioned figure
Description
This photograph shows a white computer keyboard. A finger is touching a blue key which is normally the ‘enter’ key here it has been labelled ‘ friends’.
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Figure 1: Using the Guttman Scale to measure social distance
Description
Figure 1 illustrates the Guttman scale, which is used to measure social distance. Two outlines of heads, one black and one white, are shown at the top of the scale alongside the generic question ‘ How would you feel about having members of the following groups… ‘ to the left hand side, there are a range of options completing the question ranging from ‘as my direct partner in a class project ‘ through ‘ as a collaborator in a whole class activity ‘ to finally ‘I’d exclude them from the classEach option has spaces alongside to tick or cross.
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Uncaptioned interactive content
Description
This blank table has four rows and three columns creating nine empty ’ cells’. The responses to activity 6.4 can be placed here. The first column is used for the four statements about self-esteem, the second column provides a space to write the key themes for each statement and the third column allows you to decide whether the statement you have generated is is positive or negative.
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Everyday perspectives: self-esteem
Transcript
ALEX
I define self-esteem as a love for oneself or a belief in one’s abilities. So it’s anything about believing if you can achieve your goals or anything you want to do. To me, self-esteem is similar to confidence.
NOEL
Well, I see it as how people view themselves; how they see themselves; whether their opinion about their life generally or themselves generally; whether they’re living up to their values. So, how caring they are; how much they understand people. Are they good listeners? All these things are, could be, some values you put to self-esteem.
MASSIMO
Self-esteem, for me, is like the judgement of oneself. So, basically, the way you judge yourself. It’s about what you think about yourself. It’s a bit like an examination of yourself. I think you have to be quite partial and just be honest, and judge yourself, and say, I’m good for this, and I’m not good for that.
BIANCA
I would define self-esteem as almost as a self-assessment of how you’re feeling and how you’re reacting to others, to situations, to everyday life, really.
NOEL
Well, the thing that can affect self-esteem is family, friends, society’s attitudes. Probably in the reverse order to that. Obviously, the values that they have, but probably more importantly, the values society has. So things like racism, sexism, et cetera, people feel more frightened and more vulnerable, or will be more assertive, depending on what their character’s like.
INTERVIEWER
So, there’s a really powerful political dimension to it?
NOEL
Yes, and some people can respond by being cowed by it, having low self-esteem, and some can react against that and be over-assertive about it and feel even more. I’m, for example, against racism, I’m black and I’m proud; or whether they just feel they want to hide away.
INTERVIEWER
What sort of things do you think affect how people judge themselves and feel about themselves?
MASSIMO
Definitely, things that happen in the past and now what’s happening in the present as well. So, everything from education, from experience, work, friendship, anything that happened in the past or what happens at this moment as well.
BIANCA
There are quite a few factors that I think affect people’s self-esteem, but probably, mainly, reactions from others, the way that they view other people’s reactions to themselves as well.
ALEX
I think your childhood is a big influencer: the way your parents bring you up, the way they applaud your achievements or they don’t applaud your achievements, or how they look at your failures. That’s a big sign of how you’re going to feel about your self-esteem.
CHRISTOPHER
I see all around me that relationships and work are two very big things. Not having work ¬– and I don’t define work just by having money at the end of the day, but having a meaningful existence.
BIANCA
I think the reason why some people have such high self-esteem can stem from even when they’re young. So, if they’ve been praised a lot, if they’ve been encouraged a lot, a lot of positive feedback towards themselves. I think that brings up their self-esteem.
CHRISTOPHER
It’s almost impossible to have a conversation on self-esteem and not talk about parenting. It’s kind of obvious. So, if one has been brought up in a healthy, loving environment where you’re allowed to be yourself and to communicate freely then you have a good start in life.
MASSIMO
I think a lot have to do with the background, with the education. And a lot of people, they think that they’re very good at what they do or what they are. It’s important to have self-esteem. But in the same time, it’s important also to respect other people. So, there needs to be like a border between the two. I think is quite important. To don’t cross. The self-esteem is important, but respect whoever is around you, people, et cetera, et cetera, society.
NOEL
I suppose they’ve got higher self-esteem because they’ve had a very secure background. Usually, they have a high opinion of themselves because they’d had an up-bringing that teaches them that they are good, that they are to be valued, and that to hold other people who don’t agree with them in low esteem. You often can tell people who’ve been to public school, who are over-confident about themselves. They’ve been brought up to think they are the creme de la creme, and so that gives them incredible confidence.
ALEX
I think some people have high self-esteem because of the way they look at themselves when they look into the mirror. So, do they see the potential within themselves? Do the see them achieving their objectives and their goals? Do they see their positives instead of their negatives? Do they see their strengths? And also the circle of friends and people that they move around every day. That’s a big impact on your self-esteem.
INTERVIEWER
So, then, conversely, why do people have low self-esteem, do you think?
MASSIMO
I notice that a lot of people they’re not confident with themselves because they scared to try. A lot of people they think I can’t do this; I can’t do that. Actually, they able to do it, but they don’t take, how you say, take the risk.
ALEX
It’s very relative. It’s about how you look at your achievements and failures. Do you look at your failure as an opportunity to improve? Or do you look at it as something that you should never touch ever again?
BIANCA
I think the main thing that creates low self-esteem in people is being targeted by others in a bad way. So, people that are being bullied or people that are just generally more susceptible to taking on bad feelings from others.
TABITHA
It can be the way they’re treated socially, the way they’re treated at home, in the home environment.
NOEL
Because they’ve always been told they’re failures, they’ve not had the opportunities, they don’t feel that what they’ve done has been successful, and they’re constantly being told by various means that they don’t fit into what is deemed to be the aims that society says you should have. You don’t fit into the various stereotypes that are portrayed in advertising or society, or generally around them.
MASSIMO
I think it’s very difficult to measure because self-esteem is relative to the single person. You can’t generalise the thing; it’s different environment, different situation, and different people, obviously, generate different self-esteem.
BIANCA
I do think self-esteem can be measured, but I think it’s very different; say, at different times of the day for different people. So, I think it would be hard to measure it because it would be constantly changing. But I think it can be measured.
ALEX
I don’t think you can measure it relative to other people. Because how do I feel about my singing ability from one to ten? It might be a four or five. But what about how do you feel about it? So it’s not, in that way, it’s not measurable. But it’s measurable if you measure yourself.
NOEL
It’s difficult to measure because (a) it’s subjective, but (b) it assumes that people tell you what they really think. I don’t think that people (a) necessarily know what their true self-awareness is. I don’t think we’re completely aware of ourselves anyway. But even if we are, I don’t think they’re likely to tell you, because it’s such a personal thing that’s close to themselves. So, a stranger or a questionnaire, where these questions are put, are unlikely to get someone to reveal their true feelings about themselves. They’re going to come out with a ‘I’m fine, I’m fine.’
TABITHA
I don’t necessarily think you can measure it in terms of high and low self-esteem because I think it’s based on each situation: how they view themselves. You could probably come up with a few terms like ‘insecure’ or ‘overconfident’, but I think it’s on a case-by-case basis. So, it wouldn’t be an overall way to describe a person.
ALEX
My self-esteem has developed over the years; I have had not exactly the highest self-esteem until I was about 18, 19. And then, just hard work and achievements one after another made me realise that I can go so much further and just made me more confident in a daily life. And that has affected my life, personally and professionally.
BIANCA
I think my self-esteem is pretty high, but at times I do know that I do get quite low self-esteem. So it changes.
INTERVIEWER
Do you think much about your own self-esteem?
NOEL
No. No, I don’t really. Sometimes but not often. But in the times when I had to go out and compete more (because I’m now early retired); so, I don’t have to present myself other than just to get on well with people or whatever. So, there’s no need for me to have to project myself or win people over in one way or another. So, what confidence or self-esteem I have doesn’t really matter that much.
TABITHA
I think I have my highs and lows. I can be surprisingly confident in myself in some situations, and then others, when it comes to being creative or in the work environment, like applying for jobs, I can be so terrified and I’m not even prepared to press send on the email with a CV attached. It just depends on each situation. If I had to put myself anywhere, I guess I’d just be in the middle.
MASSIMO
I don’t think about self-esteem. I try to be confident about myself, and I try to play in the field that I have knowledge. I know what I know, and I know what I don’t know. So, I try to stay in that frame; and I know if I stay in that frame I feel more comfortable and more confident with myself. But I don’t really think about self-esteem. I don’t say to myself ‘bravo’, ‘well done’.
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Chris Fullwood: Researching the relationship between self-esteem and social networking sites
Transcript
CHRIS FULLWOOD
A cyberpsychologist is a particular type of psychologist who’s interested in investigating a variety of different types of psychological phenomena associated with the online world and other forms of emerging technology. So, for example, one thing that a cyberpsychologist might be interested in investigating is how using social networking sites influences our behaviour.
KESI MAHENDRAN
Could you tell me a little bit about the different ways that the relationship between social network sites and self-esteem has been examined by psychologists?
CHRIS FULLWOOD
There tends to be two common popular approaches, one of which is the observational approach, the other of which is the self-report approach. So, a typical example of an observational approach might be observing the profiles of social networking site users and categorising their behaviour in different ways. So, for example, that might entail a content-analysis approach, where you count the number of occurrences of different types of categories and then quantify them, so you can test for differences between them.
In terms of the self-report method, that would obviously entail asking participants to recount and to reflect on their online behaviour. For instance, you might ask them how many friends have you got on Facebook? How often do you go on Facebook? How important is Facebook to you? Obviously that approach is not without its problems, because people aren’t necessarily always accurate at reflecting on their past behaviour.
KESI MAHENDRAN
Do you think that there’s a relationship between people’s use of social networking sites and people’s levels of anxiety?
CHRIS FULLWOOD
I think in the first instance we need to consider the fact that social networking sites aren’t static entities. They’ve evolved and they’ve changed over time. So if we think about one of the major social networking providers, i.e. Facebook, it was only actually in 2011 that the news feed was introduced, and 2009 when the like function was introduced. It might be that because social networking sites are changing, because they’re evolving over time, the things that people can do within those sites are also changing. And that has an impact on their behaviour.
KESI MAHENDRAN
It seems like the earlier studies suggest that self-esteem has a positive relationship with SNS use, such as Shaw and Gant’s studies. And the later studies present a more complicated picture. Why is that?
CHRIS FULLWOOD
One of the key features of the Shaw and Gant study was that participants were asked to communicate in anonymous conditions. So, essentially, they were communicating with strangers, and the identity of that stranger was not revealed to them. So I think that created conditions in which people felt comfortable expressing themselves; they felt comfortable disclosing information and talking about the kind of things that they wanted to talk about.
So there was a lack of anxiety. They felt relaxed, they felt comfortable, and I think that had a positive impact on their self-esteem. Whereas, obviously, some of the later studies have investigated social networking sites in the form they are now, and, as we know, they’ve evolved and they’ve changed over time.
And social networking sites now exist in what’s called an ‘anchored reality’. In other words, people are communicating mainly with individuals that are already known to them. And people reveal large amounts of information about who they are, their backgrounds, and, obviously, their personal identity. So I think it creates a very different sets of conditions in which people can communicate with other individuals.
KESI MAHENDRAN
So, in that case, Chris, do you think the SNS sites, such as Facebook, can create anxiety in people now?
CHRIS FULLWOOD
I think social networking sites have the potential to create anxiety in particular types of individuals. For example, if we think about social comparison, we know that some people have a tendency to compare themselves more readily to others than other individuals might. So if you’re the type of person who makes particularly upward social comparisons, where you’re looking at people who are doing better off in their life, we know that people tend to disclose quite freely on social networking sites like Facebook, so you’re going to be exposed perhaps more readily to this social comparison information. That might make you feel anxious because you might feel as if you’re less well off than other people in your social group.
So social networking sites like Facebook place social relationships under the microscope because not only are your interactions seen by you and the person you’re interacting with, but they’re also seen by other people within your network. The comments that you make aren’t throwaway comments that are there and they disappear. They’re there – there’s some level of permanency. They might be there for months, for years.
KESI MAHENDRAN
What would you say are the emerging lines of inquiry into the relationship between social networking sites such as Facebook, and people’s levels of self-esteem?
CHRIS FULLWOOD
I think it’s important to acknowledge that not everyone uses Facebook or social networking sites in the same way. So, for example, some people might use it primarily as a business tool; whereas another individual might use it to play games; another person might use it to keep in contact with people who live on the other side of the planet; someone might use it primarily to manage others’ impressions of them.
So I think acknowledging that people use it in a different way is important. A lot of the research that’s been done previously has focused on the basic features or the basic activities that people can engage in via these sites. For example, we know how many status updates do they make or how many photos do they upload. I think rather we should focus in on the more intricate level of detail in terms of: What are these photos of? Who are these people that they’ve befriended? How did they meet them? What’s their relationship with these people? And think about the motivations that people have for engaging in the different types of activities they do via the sites that they’re on.
KESI MAHENDRAN
So are there further lines of inquiry?
CHRIS FULLWOOD
I think there are further lines of inquiry, particularly surrounding the long-term effects of social media use on the individual’s self-concepts and subjective well-being. So there’s been a few tantalising hints in the literature – for example, Steinfeld’s social capital study – which suggests that engaging in social media can have a positive impact on someone self-concepts. In terms of the long-term impacts, very little research has been done to investigate that.
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Chris Fullwood: Becoming a different person on social networking sites
Transcript
[MUSIC PLAYING]
CHRIS FULLWOOD
In theory, it’s entirely possible to be someone completely different via a social networking site. You can express a completely different side of your persona to the one that you would normally express in your everyday life. However, it’s probably more difficult to do this via a social networking site than it is, say, in a communication context online where people might be more anonymous, for example, a chatroom.
And the reason for this is that social networking sites exist in what’s called an ‘anchored reality’. So the vast majority of people that we communicate with, traditionally, via social networking sites are people that are already known to us, people that we know in our offline world – in our friends and our family. So if we acted in a way that was incongruent with how we behaved in the offline world, people would pick us up on this and say ‘that’s not you, that’s strange, that’s unusual behaviour’. So there’s only so far that we can go in terms of expressing and experimenting with our identity.
However, that isn’t to say that we have to stick very firmly to our offline persona. We can have some degree of flexibility. And we can present perhaps a more idealised version of ourself in this particular context because we have the ability to edit our profiles.
We can upload photos of us that make us look attractive. We can take photos from strategic angles. We can delete comments if we think they reflect negatively on us and so on.
KESI MAHENDRAN
So in Kramer and Winter’s study, they found that people’s offline personality correlated pretty closely with their online personality. Why do you think that was the case?
CHRIS FULLWOOD
If as an individual you’re interested in exploring a different side of your personality or expressing a different side of yourself, then Facebook probably isn’t the place to do it, partly because of this anchored reality. But also partly because for most people it’s an important part of their social life. It’s a way that they can interact with individuals that are meaningful to them, that are important to them. So why would they want to express a side of themselves that isn’t really who they are?
I think if you want to express a different side of yourself online, you want to experiment with your identity, then perhaps a chatroom or a more anonymous context might be more appropriate.
KESI MAHENDRAN
Can people use social networking sites to develop their social capital?
CHRIS FULLWOOD
Indeed, social networking sites can be used to build social capital. And generally in the literature they distinguish between two types of social capital: there’s bridging social capital and bonding social capital.
Bonding social capital are the resources that we gain from people that are very close to us, close ties in our network. That might include family members or close friends, and work colleagues, and so on. Whereas bridging social capital might be the resources that we gain from people that are in looser ties. For example, a friend of a friend or someone who might work in the same building who we have only spoken to once.
I think social networking sites provide an easier opportunity to access these individuals and to communicate with them. They might have fewer opportunities to do so in the face-to-face context. Via Facebook, we might have an ‘in’ in terms of getting to know these individuals. And, ultimately, that might lead to benefits for us in terms of the types of resources that we can gain from that person. It might open avenues, opportunities that could help us in our lives.
KESI MAHENDRAN
Cyberpsychologists seem to have connected social networking to both the social enhancement hypothesis and the social compensation hypothesis. What’s your view on that?
CHRIS FULLWOOD
Well, social enhancement, also referred to as the ‘rich-get-richer hypothesis’, is this idea that people who are already thriving in the offline world can use the online world; for example, social networking sites, to enhance their already very good position.
So, for example, if I’m an extrovert, I’m good at making friends. I don’t need Facebook to make friends. I’m good at talking to people. If I go to a party, I can just go and chat to anyone with relative ease. And it’s comfortable for me to do that.
Now, I can use Facebook as an additional tool to make new friends and to make more friends. So it’s enhancing my prospects. It’s enhancing my pre-existing position.
Whereas, the social compensation hypothesis, sometimes referred to as the ‘poor-get-richer hypothesis’, is where we have individuals who are in some way lacking in their offline lives. So, for example, individuals who have poorer social competencies. People who find it difficult relating to individuals or speaking to individuals. And these types of individuals in the online world can gain an advantage because they can compensate for many of these inadequacies in the online world.
So let’s think of an example. If you’re the kind of person who’s quite shy and retiring, you might find it difficult to talk to people. And one reason might be that you’re worried about the transmission of negative social cues, like nervousness or embarrassment. You might turn red. And you might be worried about how people are going to react to that and how that reflects on you.
Whereas, in the online world, some of these cues or most of these cues are missing or they are seriously attenuated. And this means that you don’t have to worry about those kind of things. And you can kind of get on with talking to people without fear and without concern about how you’re coming across whilst you’re communicating with them.
KESI MAHENDRAN
So, then, which of these two hypotheses are correct?
CHRIS FULLWOOD
Both hypotheses are correct. Social networking sites have the potential to support both the rich-get-richer hypothesis and the poor-get-richer hypothesis, because individuals can use the sites in whichever fashion they desire. So if I’m an extrovert and I want to use it as a supplementary tool to make new friends and to maintain bonds with pre-existing friends, I can do that. If I’m the kind of person who’s quite concerned about how I’m coming across and I’m worried about my self-image, I can use the sites to try and promote a more desirable self-image; for example, by choosing particular photos that I think really frame me in a good light.
A good example of this was a study by Adam Joinson in which he measured self-esteem and categorised people as being ‘high’ or ‘low’. And then he gave them a bunch of fictitious scenarios and asked them how they would react in terms of their preference for a communication channel. So, whether they would prefer to do it via email or whether they’d prefer to do it face to face. And what he found was that people with low self-esteem, in particular, favoured communicating via email particularly when there was a level of risk associated. So, for example, if the person was asking someone out on a date, or if the person was asking for a pay raise. And he hypothesised that the main reason for this was that the person wouldn’t have to be concerned about this transmission of negative social cues like nervousness.
KESI MAHENDRAN
So psychologists have related social networking sites, such as Facebook, to self-objectification. What would you say about that?
CHRIS FULLWOOD
I think in order to project a desired image we must be able to see ourselves through other individuals’ eyes. So public self-consciousness is important in that regard. If we think about something like Higgins’s self-discrepancy theory, there’s a suggestion that we have three types of self.
There’s the ‘actual’ self, which is the person that we are in the here and now. There’s the ‘ought’ self, which is the person that we should be. Think about living up to our duties and our responsibilities. And then there’s the ‘ideal’ self, which is the self that we would like to be or that others would like us to be.
I think being on Facebook, being on social networking sites, gives people a potential to express that ideal self because of things like editability. They have more control over how they present themselves and the image that they want to portray.
KESI MAHENDRAN
So, finally, Chris, can I ask you is there a relationship between people’s social network usage and their levels of self-esteem?
CHRIS FULLWOOD
I would say there is, but it’s complicated. I think there are many factors that are likely to mediate the relationship; for example, why you might be on the social networking sites in the first place, what your motivations are for using it, what you’re likely to want to get out of it. What we can say with some level of certainty is that individuals who score low on self-esteem and individuals who score higher on self-esteem can both make positive use out of social networking sites in order to improve their stake in the world.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
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Rachel Calogero assesses self-esteem campaigns
Transcript
[MUSIC PLAYING]
KESI MAHENDRAN
Do you have any reservations about this sort of campaign and the way the NHS is using self-esteem?
RACHEL CALOGERO
I do because I think it’s a bit misleading. It’s sort of positioning self-esteem as this central causal force in people’s lives. And, in fact, we know from research in psychology that that’s not necessarily the case.
And self-esteem is important. It is nice to feel good about yourself, but there are many other factors that seem to be more causally related to how well we do in life and what we achieve.
KESI MAHENDRAN
Do you think there are more sort of structural factors then?
RACHEL CALOGERO
Absolutely. So self-esteem isn’t necessarily under our control all the time either. We can’t just feel good about ourselves because someone said something nice to us.
And self-esteem can be thought of as a trait or a state. Right? So it could be something that’s quite enduring and is hard to shift. It could be very stable. But for other people it might be quite variable. And depending on the situation they’re in or the people that they’re with, it could go up and down quite a bit. So trying to put all of your eggs in that basket is problematic because it can be a bit unpredictable as well.
KESI MAHENDRAN
So it’s risky.
RACHEL CALOGERO
Yeah. What’s interesting about self-esteem is it’s related to other important variables in psychology, like authenticity, self-compassion, self-worth. So those are all distinct things, but the way that the NHS is using self-esteem sort of encapsulates all of those things. And so that’s one way of trying to, sort of, help people understand how they can feel good about themselves without having an over-inflated sense of self, if you will.
KESI MAHENDRAN
So it gives us a sense of balance about it.
RACHEL CALOGERO
Yeah, exactly. And being true to yourself is a little bit different than saying feel good about yourself all the time.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
KESI MAHENDRAN
So here again, the focus in this project is to enable people to boost their self-esteem. How do you assess those 10 tips, if you like, on how to keep your self-esteem steady?
RACHEL CALOGERO
I think this is useful. I mean I think some of these recommendations do seem to stem from solid psychological evidence, which I think is important. So, for example, using affirmations to enhance your self-esteem is quite a common therapeutic technique to try to boost self-esteem and give you some reinforcements, something to call on, some resources, internal resources, when you are facing adversity and you’re facing some of the bullying and those kinds of discrimination situations that LGBT people are definitely facing.
KESI MAHENDRAN
I think with the last one right at the bottom – getting involved and getting yourself out there – do you have a view on that as a means of maintaining self-esteem?
RACHEL CALOGERO
I do because I think that self-esteem as an emotion and an attitude is related to behaviour, but behaviour can also affect self-esteem. And in fact, that’s what a lot of the research shows. So it’s not that having good high self-esteem, positive self-esteem, is going to lead you to engage in all these positive behaviours, but actually just being active and the doing of positive behaviours and things that feel good to you in turn makes you feel better. So I think there’s a reciprocal relationship there.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
KESI MAHENDRAN
So as a social psychologist, do you have difficulties with the way that the self-esteem concept is being used in campaigns such as NHS campaigns and self-help campaigns?
RACHEL CALOGERO
I think that the intention of using self-esteem and trying to improve people’s self-esteem is a good one. And these campaigns shouldn’t be faulted for focusing on it. But at the same time, I think it’s a bit over used and can actually be quite misleading as well.
If we think that everything is going to change or outcomes are going to significantly improve just by increasing self-esteem, when that doesn’t happen people are going to be quite let down. And we do know from research in psychology that self-esteem isn’t the central causal force in a lot of these contexts. It’s not necessarily going to improve academic performance, improve experiences at work, improve your relationship. So resting all of our hopes and dreams on self-esteem may be disappointing in the end.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
RACHEL CALOGERO
The way it’s framed for people is that it’s quite malleable. That if you just start telling yourself how good you are, accepting compliments and affirming your value, that you can have higher self-esteem on a regular basis. And I don’t think we know that that’s actually the case or that that’s true. And we also don’t have consistent evidence showing that having high self-esteem all the time in every situation is a good thing.
So the message is quite simplistic that’s being sent with these campaigns. Having higher self-esteem is better and, therefore, everyone should have higher self-esteem. And I think the picture is a bit more complicated than that.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
So self-objectification is the idea of taking a third-person perspective on yourself instead of a first-person perspective. So viewing yourself as he or she, as an object in the eyes of others, as opposed to I, me, a first-person perspective.
And specifically, within this theory, the idea is that when you are chronically sexually objectified, being exposed to objectified images in the media, interpersonally being checked out, comments being made about your body, sexual comments, over time these accumulate for many girls and women. And it becomes internalised. So they view themselves primarily as appearance objects, sexual objects.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
OK. So I’m just going to provide a visual representation of objectification theory, which I think is useful to see. So the starting point of the theory is that girls and women are regularly exposed to sexual objectification in their everyday environments. So this is through the media and interpersonal encounters that they have. And these experiences accumulate over time in and out of different environments and contexts.
Over time, women come to internalise this sexually objectifying gaze. And many of them will turn it on themselves and now come to view themselves as sexual objects primarily. In their own eyes, appearance becomes most valued and most important. So they’re viewing themselves more from this objectified third-person perspective as an observer views them instead of from a first-person perspective.
And when self-objectification is in place, this is theorised to predict four specific consequences for women. One is body shame. One is appearance anxiety. One is called interoceptive awareness. And disrupted concentration or flow experiences.
So these four consequences are proposed to result from high levels of self-objectification. Women feel worse about their bodies, they’re anxious about their appearance, they’re more detached from their internal sensations and how they feel inside. They’re less aware of how tired they are, hungry they are, et cetera. And the more disrupted their concentration and attention is on a regular basis.
So their cognitive processing is being taken up a bit by their focus on their appearance. And these four mechanisms in turn lead women to be more vulnerable to three specific mental health risks, which are eating disorders, unipolar depression, and sexual dysfunction. So we know from what the statistics consistently show that women are more likely to report and be diagnosed with clinical eating disorders, clinical forms of depression, and clinical forms of sexual dysfunction.
And that gender difference is quite distinct. It’s quite significant. And this model provides a sociocultural explanation for that gender gap in these mental health risks. So this is the proposal that sexual objectification in our environment has these intrapersonal consequences. It does this to women over time, and in turn, this makes women more vulnerable to these specific mental health risks.
Now what my research has done has tested this theory in all of these different ways and found evidence for it as others have, but also looked at self-objectification as being a force that’s necessary for understanding not only body image variables and mental health variables, but also societal-level variables, such as social activism. So I’ve looked at the extent to which self-objectification once it’s in place it does seem to do all of these things, but it also seems to interfere with women’s social activism and their support for the status quo.
So I’ve taken this in a different direction and looked at this kind of outcome instead of a health and well-being outcome. I’ve looked at more of a societal level outcome, a collective action outcome, and all of the mediating mechanisms that are linking self-objectification to this particular outcome. There’s lots going on here that we still need to understand.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
[CAPTION: Why did you coin the term complimentary weightism?]
That study was looking at how appearance commentary, in particular, was related to self-objectification and chronic body monitoring and shame in women. And there was already a wealth of data supporting the fact that being criticised on your appearance is harmful. And it reduces body satisfaction and it makes people more self-conscious. But there was less research on what happens when you’re complimented on your appearance.
So, ‘Hey, you look great, you lost weight.’ That’s what we say all the time. And again, well-intentioned statements, but is that also problematic?
That was a question I had.
Some research – the little that had been done on it – suggests it might be problematic. And so this was more fully explored in this research. And what we found was that both criticisms and compliments on appearance increased body dissatisfaction. And they increased self-objectification and self-surveillance.
So drawing attention to the body, whether it’s positive or negative, seems to make people more conscious of their appearance in the eyes of others. People are now more conscious of the fact that they’re being looked at as bodies, whether you’re saying something nice or not so nice.
And once you have that shift from not thinking about your body to all of a sudden ‘Oh, I need to think about how I look; they’re thinking about how I look,’ that is what predicts more body dissatisfaction.
So from that set of studies that we did, we developed this concept we called complimentary weightism to just try to capture this idea that even compliments are problematic. They’re prejudicial and discriminatory. Weightism, as a whole, is this idea of being prejudiced against someone because of their body size or shape.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
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Behind the scenes with Rachel Calogero
Transcript
[Why did you get involved with research around body-esteem and self-esteem?]
RACHEL CALOGERO
I remember quite clearly. I was in a master’s programme in psychology, in the US. This was a two-year programme, and we had to do a first-year project. And I just started reading the literature for my courses. And I came across a couple articles that had just been published, on what was referred to as ‘objectification theory’.
And it was, literally, just that. Finding something that I resonated with.
KESI MAHENDRAN
Uh-huh. Yeah.
RACHEL CALOGERO
Doing the reading. The reading is so important, because I wouldn’t have come across it, otherwise. You know? So I went to the library. Or now you can just get them online.
And this article, I just really had the sense of, I want to know more about this. I want to understand this better, and I want to do something about it.
And so this particular paper was a review paper – a theoretical paper. And those are nice to read, sometimes, because they give you an overview of the ideas, without necessarily the studies, yet, to come along with it. So this was a new idea. And it just made a lot of sense to me. And I wanted to – I wanted to know more, and I really wanted to investigate this more deeply.
So that’s how I came to the topic of objectification of women – girls and women.
KESI MAHENDRAN
What were your aims, when you started your research into the area?
RACHEL CALOGERO
My aims were, first, thinking about it from the perspective of a researcher – a social psychologist, doing research. I wanted to actually test the theory. So my first aim was, how true is this? How true is this idea, that women and girls are, in this environment, regularly exposed to being sexually objectified? And that they internalise that, somehow, and they turn that objectification on themselves. So now they view themselves as sexual objects.
And when they do that, there’s a whole host of negative consequences that come along with it. How true are these statements – these hypotheses? And so my first aim was to test them. And, since this was a new theory, no one had done a lot of this work, yet. So this was sort of an open area of inquiry. And so that was one of my primary aims.
My second aim, which I think was equally important, is, can we do anything about this? Because I had an intuitive sense that, yes, in fact, we’re going to find evidence for this. But once you actually run the studies, you see it’s a more complicated picture. You know, it’s not always straightforward. It’s not always intuitive – what you think – the way the world works. But there was enough evidence to suggest that this is problematic, when this happens for women.
And can we change it? Can we change self-objectification itself, within women? Can we change how we respond to women, as a society, and the emphasis we place on women’s bodies, as a society? So I wanted to sort of be a researcher of this theory, and then I also was thinking more in terms of applying this to the real world. Can we actually change this and improve the quality of women’s lives?
KESI MAHENDRAN
What made you decide to put self-objectification together with system justification? What was the thinking behind that study?
RACHEL CALOGERO
I started thinking about self-objectification as being about more than just valuing appearance. And my interest, more broadly, isn’t just in objectification of women, but the role of gender, in our lives, more broadly. So gender is so critical to how we define ourselves. It’s critical to, um – you know, it determines, in many ways, a lot of our life trajectories and life outcomes.
And I was interested in how self-objectification is a gender experience and what it actually means in terms of women’s status in society to be an object, and to feel that oneself is an object. And so in thinking about in these broader terms, while I was doing my PhD, again, I started reading more widely about societal oppression and prejudice, and how disadvantaged groups cope with their essentially lower social status and position, in society.
And system justification theory – which was originally published in 1994, by John Jost and Mahzarin Banaji – actually spoke directly to that question of how is oppression perpetuated and sustained over time? Well, part of their explanation that they put forward is that disadvantaged groups – members of disadvantaged groups – sign up for it. Unbeknownst to them, in most cases. Unknowingly, they are supporting the very status quo that keeps them in an oppressed position. And there’s a lot of theoretical reasoning behind this and loads of evidence, at this point in time, supporting a lot of these propositions.
I found this theory very intriguing. And it seemed to map on really well with how I was starting to change my thinking about self-objectification. It had been relegated, at that point, primarily to the body-image literature. But, in the wider objectification theory, this was talked about as a form of sexism. And sexism is an oppressive practice. And so I was trying to sort of link these up, in a way, to sort of look at how self-objectification might be harmful to women, in other ways beyond their physical health, which is obviously very critical and important.
But it’s also important in terms of maintaining women’s lower social status, potentially. And what I showed, in some of my research, is it actually interferes with their engagement in social activism, when they start to view themselves more as an object, instead of an agent, in their own lives.
There are a couple different scales that are commonly used to measure self-objectification as a more stable, trait-like individual difference. And I’ve relied on those quite a bit in my research so far. You can also prime self-objectification. You can make people more or less in a state of self-objectifying, if you want to actually manipulate the situation. And that allows you to speak more to causation, in your research studies.
KESI MAHENDRAN
So you’ve used a sort of experimental approach, using the scales. What made you decide to go down that route?
RACHEL CALOGERO
Well, that was my training, and my master’s and PhD. So, obviously, you can take a more qualitative route. My training was more quantitative. So those are the type of research methods and analytical skills that I acquired.
I have a great appreciation for qualitative research, as well. And I am collaborating with people that do more qualitative work and have those expertise. And I really think the best is a complement of the two, to really answer questions fully in our field.
KESI MAHENDRAN
So what sort of things would a participant do, then, to take part, Rachel?
RACHEL CALOGERO
So, typically, in my research, participants are going to be completing surveys – measures of self-objectification and the other variables that I’m interested in. And if it’s an actual experiment, then I would be trying, in some way, to activate a state of self-objectification, and then measuring their responses.
KESI MAHENDRAN
And how would you go about doing that?
RACHEL CALOGERO
So here’s one example of something that I’ve used, in the past, which has been a successful way of actually priming a state of self-objectification. It’s a very simple writing task. This is used quite often in psychology.
And I’m asking them to think about a time when they felt that somebody was sexually objectifying them. And I give them some examples of what I mean. So when someone has made sexual comments about your body or whistled at you on the street. Somehow attention has been called to your body. What you think about that, where you were, who you were with, how that makes you feel, what you were thinking at the time.
And then I just have them write about that experience for a couple minutes. Two, three minutes, at the most is all it takes to get people back in that place and try to activate this objectified mindset.
When you prime somebody like this, then you want to actually make sure that – are they self-objectifying more? And so we might ask a couple questions, after they complete this task. You know – ‘To what extent are you thinking about your body, right now?’, for example. Just one or two questions.
KESI MAHENDRAN
Uh-huh. Yeah.
RACHEL CALOGERO
So we would compare a person who did this task to a person who was asked to write about going to the grocery store. OK? As a sort of a comparison or a control condition. So when you activated an objectified state, versus when you haven’t, are there differences in how participants now respond, on the other scales?
KESI MAHENDRAN
So this would be the experimental condition. And then you have a control condition –
RACHEL CALOGERO
Exactly.
KESI MAHENDRAN
– that’s neutral?
RACHEL CALOGERO
Yep. And it looks exactly the same. It just has different instructions. So a participant would read through this set of statements and respond on this scale that’s provided the extent, in this case, to which they agree or disagree with these statements.
And again, we’d expect that someone who was primed to think about being sexually objectified is now actually objectifying themselves more. And so they should score higher on a scale that’s measuring how much they’re chronically monitoring their body, in this particular moment.
So that’s one way that we try to look at whether or not objectification experiences cause certain outcomes for women.
KESI MAHENDRAN
And one of the scales that you’ve used is the system-justification scale.
RACHEL CALOGERO
That’s right. I can show that to you, as well. That looks similar to the other scales in how it’s formatted. But different sets of questions.
And this is asking more about how people perceive relations between men and women to be in society. There are different forms of this scale. So you can ask about whether you think the economic status quo is fair, for example.
But this one is asking about the gender status quo. So, for example, ‘For women, the United Kingdom is the best country in the world to live in.’ To what extent do participants agree with that? ‘Everyone, male or female, has a fair shot at wealth and happiness.’ To what extent do they disagree or agree with that?
And what the scale is trying to capture is people’s feelings about where they are positioned in society right now. To what extent do they feel like things are OK? They’re just, they’re fair, they’re good the way they are. Don’t really need to be radically restructured, for example.
So this allows us to look at potential links between self-objectification – which is an individual difference variable – internal variable – and how people perceive the wider society that they live in, and their position in that society. So it’s really bringing in these structural forces, linking that up with how they feel about their personal selves and how they view their personal selves.
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Back
WEEK 10:

DD210-15J
Week 10: Nations and immigration
Eleni Andreouli

© 2015 The Open University
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted or utilised in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher.
WEB03819 7
1.1

Contents
• 1 Introduction
• 2 Becoming a national: the UK citizenship test
2.1 Unpacking the citizenship test
• 3 The social construction of nations
3.1 The variability of national boundaries
• 4 Nationalism: ‘hot’ and ‘banal’
4.1 Michael Billig
4.2 Behind the scenes of banal nationalism
• 5 Immigration: crossing national boundaries
5.1 Everyday perspectives: immigration and national identity
5.2 Bordering the nation: Othering and national identity
• 6 From nationalism to cosmopolitanism?
6.1 Banal cosmopolitanism
• 7 Focus on methods: analysing documents
7.1 Advantages of document analysis
7.2 How are documents analysed?
7.3 An example of document analysis: Obama’s electoral campaign speeches
• 8 Developing your skills: searching online newspapers and reading critically
• 9 Summary
• References

1 Introduction

View description – Uncaptioned figure
Last week you explored social relationships in the context of creative collaboration. You learned that creativity is often the result of people working together rather than the outcome of a single talented individual. This week you will conclude Block 2 by continuing to reflect on the impact of social relationships on everyday life. This week the focus is on nations, an important source of identification for people.
After studying this week you will be able to:
• explain how psychologists have explored nationalism, national identities and immigration
• reflect on the possible development of cosmopolitan affiliations that extend beyond the nation state
• effectively analyse documents
• effectively search online newspapers and read critically.
Before you read Chapter 6 of your module textbook, you will undertake the UK’s citizenship test, which will introduce you to some key ideas of Week 10.

2 Becoming a national: the UK citizenship test
In 2005, the British government introduced a citizenship test for migrants applying for British citizenship. The test is called the Life in the United Kingdom test and its questions are based on the Life in the United Kingdom handbook (Figure 1). As its name suggests, the test is designed to assess how familiar migrants are with life in the UK before they can become citizens and acquire full rights in the country.

Figure 1: Life in the UK handbook
View description – Figure 1: Life in the UK handbook
Activity 1: Life in the United Kingdom test
Allow 25 minutes for this activity
First, in the text box below, note down the kinds of questions you think the Life in the United Kingdom test might include.
Provide your answer…
Having done that, let’s see how far your ideas about the test might be accurate. Take the official Life in the United Kingdom practice test now. The instructions on the website give you 45 minutes to answer 24 questions; however, try to take no longer than 15 minutes to complete the test. Once you have completed it, return here and continue to Section 2.1 where you will explore the nature of the test in detail.
2.1 Unpacking the citizenship test

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Having completed the Life in the United Kingdom practice test, it’s worth considering what you thought of the experience and how your ideas about the test may have changed.
Activity 2: ‘Being British’
Allow 15 minutes for this activity
What kinds of ideas about what it means to be British do you think the test is based on? Do they match your own ideas about what it means to be British? Do they match the ideas you came up with in Activity 1? Write down your thoughts in the text box below.
Provide your answer…
View discussion – Activity 2: ‘Being British’
Now read Book 1, Chapter 6, ‘Nations and immigration’, before continuing with this study week.

3 The social construction of nations
In Chapter 6, nations were described as constructed categories of belonging. You were first introduced to the framework of social constructionism in Chapter 5, where you learned that the ways in which people understand romantic relationships are not universal, but are culturally specific and are constructed in different ways across different social and cultural environments.
We can apply the same idea to the study of nations. Nations are not ‘natural’ communities; they are socially and historically constructed. They are ‘imagined communities’, as Benedict Anderson (1983) has famously argued. An example of the social construction of nations is Michael Billig’s (1995) work on how national media reproduce national identities through commonplace practices such as weather reports. Scholars such as Stephen Reicher and Nick Hopkins (2001) have also studied the ways in which national identities are constructed in the context of political debates – which you also read about in the chapter.
What are the implications of this social constructionist view on nations? The social constructionist approach is a quite broad framework in psychology but for the purposes of this week’s learning, you can keep in mind the following three focus areas of this approach to understanding nations:
Variability: People or groups with different positions and interests may develop and advance different understandings of their nation.
Change and debate: The meaning of national identities can be the subject of debate whereby individuals or different groups argue for and try to establish their own understandings of national identity (as you saw in the debates about Scottish independence in Chapter 6, for instance). This also means that the meanings attached to national identities are open to contestation and can therefore change.
Functions of different ways of constructing the nation: Social constructionist researchers would be interested in researching who is included and excluded in different ‘versions’ of defining a nation, for example.
3.1 The variability of national boundaries
Nations appear to most people as a given (Billig, 1995). In other words, most people do not question their national identities, nor do they often wonder where nations come from. The boundaries of nations, at least in most countries of the West, are not often contested. In simple terms, we all know where ‘our’ country starts and where it ends and we know which countries lie beyond those borders.
National boundaries are not set for all time – world maps from 100 years ago are quite different from contemporary world maps. Changes in world maps suggest that nation states, as they are known today, are not stable entities. As you read in Chapter 6, it is very difficult to differentiate nations based on common territory. Similarly, common ethnicity, language and culture are not adequate criteria for differentiating nations as they create clear-cut divisions between nations which do not correspond to the actual complexity of establishing nations.

4 Nationalism: ‘hot’ and ‘banal’
What comes to mind when you think of nationalism? For many people, nationalism brings to mind the idea of a strong attachment to one’s nation, which can lead to violence and intolerance towards other nations. You may have seen news articles explain violent conflicts around the world as being the result of nationalism. Nationalism is commonly seen as a negative and almost unhealthy emotional attachment towards one’s nation.
These ideas are not too different from the ways in which many psychologists have studied nationalism. In the chapter, you were introduced to the distinction between blind patriotism (or nationalism) and constructive patriotism (or, simply, patriotism) (Schatz et al., 1999; Mummendey and Klink, 2001). The latter is defined in a rather positive way, in terms of pride and loyalty towards one’s nation. On the other hand, nationalism, or blind patriotism, is defined more negatively, as a rigid and uncritical attachment to one’s nation, one that it is often related to ethnocentrism and xenophobia. This is a ‘hot’ type of nationalism as it is associated with extreme emotions and negative behaviours towards others.
To a large extent, this distinction corresponds to how people understand nationalism and patriotism. On the one hand, narratives of national history, as portrayed, for example, in educational curricula, are filled with heroic figures and revolutionaries who sacrificed their lives for the nation. These are portrayed as the ‘good’ patriots. On the other hand, ‘bad’ nationalists, such as the Nazi Germans during the Second World War, are seen as dogmatic, hateful and ethnocentric.
Billig (1995), however, has argued that this distinction, which is very common in the Western world, is politicised and partial as it portrays those classed as ‘others’ as being nationalistic and those classed as ‘us’ as being patriotic. For instance, the British media typically describe the Republicans in Northern Ireland as nationalists but not the British government. For Billig, this distinction between violent nationalism (against ‘others’) and healthy constructive patriotism (for ‘us’) overlooks the ‘banality’ of nationalism in people’s everyday lives.
Billig has suggested that nationalistic thinking is not a result of extreme personalities and does not necessarily lead to extreme behaviours, but that it is a common-sense way of thinking. Banal nationalism refers to the ordinary, everyday routines that reproduce the idea that nation states are a natural way of dividing the world. As a result, while nations are actually relatively recent forms of communities, they appear to most people as if they were natural.
As you can imagine, the concept of banal nationalism was pioneering, as it introduced a new way of understanding nationalism. In the next section you will see how Billig developed this concept.
4.1 Michael Billig
As you have seen, the concept of banal nationalism was introduced by Billig (Figure 2), a British social psychologist, and has since been applied in numerous studies of national identity.

Figure 2: Michael Billig
View description – Figure 2: Michael Billig
Billig initially trained as an experimental social psychologist at the University of Bristol. He worked under the supervision of Henri Tajfel, whose social identity theory (SIT) you were introduced to in Week 9. During that time, Billig was involved in the original experiments that established the idea of in-groups and out-groups, which is central to SIT. However, Billig, in his post-Bristol work, moved away from experimental work towards qualitative research, focusing particularly on the study of language. Since 1985, Billig has been based at Loughborough University where he is a professor of social psychology.
Billig has published numerous books and articles and is well known within and outside of psychology. His work has covered a wide range of subjects, including ideology, rhetoric, nationalism, fascism, humour, psychoanalysis and popular music. One of his best known strands of work has been the study of ideology as an everyday way of thinking (Billig, 1991). His work on banal nationalism falls broadly within this strand of his work. His book Banal Nationalism (1995) received the Myers Center Award for outstanding work on intolerance in North America.
4.2 Behind the scenes of banal nationalism
In the video below, Billig explains how he developed the concept of banal nationalism.
Video content is not available in this format.
Michael Billig: a world of nationalism
View transcript – Michael Billig: a world of nationalism
Activity 3: Interview with Michael Billig
Allow 30 minutes for this activity
Now watch the interview again and as you watch, answer the following questions.
1. According to Billig, what are the limitations of traditional psychological research into nationalism, which led him to change his approach?
Provide your answer…
View answer – Untitled part
2. How does Billig understand nationalism?
Provide your answer…
View answer – Untitled part
3. As you read in Chapter 6, psychologists have made a distinction between nationalism and patriotism. Does Billig uphold this difference?
Provide your answer…
View answer – Untitled part
4. What is banal nationalism and how does Billig illustrate the difference between this and hot nationalism?
Provide your answer…
View answer – Untitled part

5 Immigration: crossing national boundaries
So far this week has discussed how national identities are developed within national borders. However, this discussion would be incomplete if it did not also address what happens when people cross national borders.
Immigration and movement have always been part of the development of human societies, but this trend is increasing. The United Nations states that 3.2 per cent of the world population in 2013 was formed of migrants. This percentage may seem small but it corresponds to 232 million people! As you might expect, there are more migrants in the global North (the ‘developed’ world), with about 136 million migrants in 2013, compared to the global South, with about 96 million migrants (Figures 3 and 4; click ‘View larger image’ to view the figures at full size). If you want to learn more about this, you can visit the United Nations website on international migration.

Figure 3: International migrants, 2013
View description – Figure 3: International migrants, 2013

Figure 4: International migrants as a percentage of the total population, 2013
It is not just people from the global South who are migrating. For instance, about ten per cent of the British population lives abroad in places such as Australia, Spain and the USA. If you are interested in where these Britons live you can have a look at the BBC Brits Abroad website.
What effect does migration have on how we understand nations and national identities? Would immigration challenge the idea that nations are clearly distinguishable from one another and that national identities are mutually exclusive?
In Chapter 6, Section 4, you read about some of the psychological processes involved in experiences of migration. In particular, you read about two interrelated strands of research – acculturation and multiple identities. Acculturation is the process of migrant socialisation into a new cultural environment in a way that brings changes to the culture of the receiving society. Research on identity, on the other hand, has explored the ways in which multiple national and cultural identities can be combined, which is particularly relevant to migrants’ experiences. Chapter 6 primarily discussed four ways in which identities can be related: compartmentalisation, cultural dominance, superordinate identities and identity hyphenation. You can remind yourself of these concepts by looking at Chapter 6, Section 4, before moving on to the next section.
5.1 Everyday perspectives: immigration and national identity
The ‘Everyday perspectives’ video below shows the participants reflecting on their own everyday perspectives and experiences of immigration and national identity.
Video content is not available in this format.
Everyday perspectives: immigration and national identity
View transcript – Everyday perspectives: immigration and national identity
Activity 4: Immigration and identity
Allow 20 minutes for this activity
Now watch the video again and as you watch, answer the following questions based on what you read in Chapter 6, Section 4.
1. How do the participants describe the challenges of migrating to another country?
Provide your answer…
View answer – Untitled part
2. How does the idea of multiple identities apply to these participants?
Provide your answer…
View answer – Untitled part
5.2 Bordering the nation: Othering and national identity
According to the 2013 Eurobarometer, a survey conducted in all member states of the European Union (EU), immigration was in the top ten of EU citizens’ concerns. In some countries, including Malta and the UK, concerns about immigration were well above the average of the other EU countries.
So, despite the fact that global immigration is on the rise, it is not always welcome. In Chapter 6 you read about the notion of Othering. You will remember that Othering refers to drawing boundaries between ‘our’ group and ‘other’ groups in a way that devalues those other groups and excludes them from ‘our’ community. In the chapter, Othering was discussed in terms of how the media portray migrants and asylum interactions, as well as in terms of how politicians often discuss asylum as a problem. Othering can also, however, be evident in more ‘tangible’ social interactions.
Immigration controls can be one such example. Have you ever had to submit a visa application to travel or work abroad? States have strict rules about who is allowed to enter and stay in the country and for how long – the mobility of people across the globe is heavily restricted. For instance, it would be very difficult for non-skilled migrants from outside the EU to obtain a work visa for an EU country. Through immigration controls, nation states can therefore separate those who are ‘inside’ their state from those who are ‘outside’.
However, it is not only foreign nationals who may experience feelings of exclusion in their dealings with immigration controls. An interesting study conducted by Leda Blackwood et al. (2013) explored Othering in encounters with airport authorities. The study explored in particular Scottish Muslims’ (and hence UK citizens’) perspectives on their interactions with airport officials. Many of the participants of this study reported being stopped for further security checks in UK airports when returning from abroad.

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Activity 5: Othering in encounters with airport authorities
Allow 15 minutes for this activity
Read these two extracts from Blackwood et al.’s (2013) study on encounters with airport authorities by British Muslims. How do you think these negative airport encounters impact the extent to which these participants feel they belong to the national community?
Extract 1: Male, 28, youth worker
For me to be singled out felt where am I now? This is my home, I consider Scotland my home. Why am I being stopped in my own house? Why am I felt, being made to feel as the other in my own house?
Blackwood et al., 2013, pp. 1098–99
Extract 2: Male, 31, professional
To be treated like that when you’re a citizen, you know you don’t even get that kind of treatment if you’re going abroad to a foreign country where you are foreign. You’re the alien in that society. So I mean, it’s not a pleasant experience.
Blackwood et al., 2013, p. 1099
Provide your answer…
View discussion – Activity 5: Othering in encounters with airport authorities

6 From nationalism to cosmopolitanism?

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In this section you will consider the idea that people are developing new affiliations that extend beyond the nation.
Pause for thought
Can you think of examples where people develop such post-national identities or allegiances?
View discussion – Pause for thought
You may have noticed that the EU remains bounded to the idea of nationhood. In order to be an EU citizen, a person also needs to have national citizenship.
However, there is some evidence to suggest that people are also developing solidarities that extend beyond nationhood. You have probably come across the term cosmopolitanism, which is frequently used to describe this move towards a more interconnected world. The term comes from the Greek word kosmopolites which literally means ‘citizen of the world’. Although this term originates in ancient Greece, it appears to have more resonance today than ever before.
6.1 Banal cosmopolitanism
According to the sociologist Ulrich Beck (2002), many people have become ‘banally’ cosmopolitan. Beck’s term ‘banal cosmopolitanism’ has been described as challenging Billig’s concept of banal nationalism. Banal cosmopolitanism refers to the habitual crossing of national boundaries in everyday life.
According to Beck, people unreflectively engage with different cultures and national traditions in our everyday lives. Consider, for example, the products that you consume every day, the kinds of foods that you eat, the music that you listen to and the kinds of TV shows that you watch. These everyday habits are unlikely to be part of a single national culture. Without always being aware of it, people are becoming more accustomed to diversity and are increasingly able to engage with people of diverse national and cultural backgrounds. This is partly the result of increased international communication; for example, through the internet and the growing use of social media which connect people around the world. It is also the result of increased international mobility; for example, through immigration and travelling.
You may think that these ideas are in conflict with much of what you have learned this week, particularly the idea of banal nationalism. You may wonder whether Billig or Beck is correct – are people ‘nationalists’ or ‘cosmopolitans’?
The second part of Billig’s interview on cosmopolitanism and mobility, which is included below, explores this question.
Video content is not available in this format.
Michael Billig: banal nationalism
View transcript – Michael Billig: banal nationalism
Pause for thought
According to Michael Billig, what is the relationship between cosmopolitanism and nationalism?
View answer – Pause for thought

7 Focus on methods: analysing documents
So far in Block 2 you have encountered questionnaires, observations and interviews as forms of research methods. This week you will learn about documentary analysis. Many of the studies that you have explored this week are based on some form of document analysis.
In what ways can documents be used as data? Documents are data that take the form of text and images which have been collected without the intervention of a researcher, such as an interviewer (Silverman, 2006). In other words, while, in an interview, the interviewer has an impact on how the data are collected (through the questions the interviewer is asking), in document analysis the researcher finds and selects documents that already exist.
Documents, despite often being referred to as ‘texts’ by some researchers, are not only written texts; they can be any form of material that contains meaning and conveys a message. With this broad definition of a document, visual and audio material can also fall into the document category.
Activity 6: National identity and immigration documents
Allow 10 minutes for this activity
With this definition in mind, can you think of examples of documents that could be used for research on issues around national identity and immigration? Try to match each type of document below with an example used in Chapter 6.
Political speeches
Newspaper articles
Online texts
Statements from Scottish independence campaigns
Lynn and Lea (2003)
Augoustinos and De Garis (2012)
View discussion – Activity 6: National identity and immigration documents
7.1 Advantages of document analysis
Why would psychologists use documents as data? An obvious advantage is that documents have been produced without the intervention of a researcher. In contrast to all other methods you have encountered in the module so far, documents are not produced for the purposes of research (they have been produced for other purposes, of course). Documents are therefore known as naturally occurring data and are useful for researchers, as finding participants to take part in a study can actually be quite difficult.
The fact that documents are naturally occurring means that they are non-reactive (Bryman, 2008). This means that the researcher does not influence them. An important critique of social science research methods is that researchers often have a substantial impact on how participants behave. In interviews and questionnaires, for instance, the way in which a participant answers a question depends greatly on how that question is asked. When using documents, a researcher does not have an impact on how the data is produced. Keep in mind, however, that the researcher’s perspective still has an impact on how documents are selected and analysed.
There are other advantages of document data:
Richness: Documents can contain rich information about how an issue is understood or constructed (Silverman, 2006). In Chapter 6, for example, you saw how a single paragraph of one of Barack Obama’s speeches contained very rich information about the construction of US national identity.
Relevance and effect: Documents can be very influential (Silverman, 2006). Think about parliamentary debates and discussions which may have a huge impact on people’s lives.
Availability: Documents are usually easily available (Silverman, 2006), much like covert observations which you learned about in Week 8. Compared to covert observations, however, there are usually no ethical constraints on using documents for research. For instance, newspaper articles are usually freely available online and can be searched with the use of databases, such as Nexis UK (you will learn more about this in Section 8).
Review: Other researchers have access to the same data, so they can check the analysis and/or conduct their own analysis.
Of course, documents as sources of data also have disadvantages; for example, it may be difficult to obtain a full record of historical documents and identify their authors. This can constrain the availability of documents. Also, the fact that documents are not produced for the purposes of research can be both an advantage (as explained above) and a disadvantage, as they may not provide the information sought. Nevertheless, documents can be very rich sources of data.
7.2 How are documents analysed?
In some ways, documents are no different from other types of data. Techniques used to analyse qualitative data can be used to analyse documents, as can quantitative methods, such as statistics; for example, recording how frequently a particular word is used.
If you are taking a qualitative approach, a good way to start is by ‘interrogating’ (i.e. asking questions of) the documents that have been selected for analysis. Box 1 lists some questions that could be used as a starting point.
Box 1: Useful questions for analysing documents
• What is the context of the document’s production? Was the document produced in the context of a particular political debate, for example, or in a particular cultural context?
• Who is the intended audience of the document? Academic documents usually only address the community of researchers in a particular field, for example, while national newspaper articles usually address an entire nation.
• How does the document construct the topic it covers? Remember that documents are not mere reflections of reality, so the ways in which they describe an issue is important. Asylum seekers can be portrayed in a newspaper article as either ‘genuine’ or ‘bogus’, for instance.
• Who is the author of the document and how do they present themselves? In academic publications, for example, authors often present themselves as authorities over a given topic, while politicians often present themselves as ‘one of us’ in their speeches.
• What is the purpose of the document? In the case of Scottish independence, for example, the declarations of the two opposing campaigns aimed to convince the audience to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in the referendum.
7.3 An example of document analysis: Obama’s electoral campaign speeches
You may feel that what has been discussed so far about document analysis is quite abstract. You are right. The best way to understand research methods is by practising them. Here, you will use the example of a published study that was referred to in Chapter 6, Augoustinos and De Garis’ (2012) analysis of Obama’s pre-election speeches.
Barack Obama was the first black American to run for presidential elections in the USA. As you saw in the chapter, Obama’s multiracial identity was a matter of public discussion prior to his 2008 presidency campaign and during his presidency. For some, he was seen as being ‘too black’ to represent a dominantly white US nation. For others, he was ‘not black enough’ due to his mixed-race heritage. How could Barack Obama, such a seemingly unconventional candidate, construct US national identity in a way that could help him convince the nation that he was ‘one of them’ and that they should vote for him?
For their study, Augoustinos and De Garis (2012) collected all of Obama’s speeches, starting with the announcement of his candidacy in 2007 and going up to his inaugural address in 2008. Out of 58 speeches that Obama delivered in that period, they selected the eight speeches that were the most relevant for their study.
Activity 7: Practising document analysis
Allow 20 minutes for this activity
Now try to use the questions in Box 1 to analyse an extract from Obama’s speech, ‘Reclaiming the American Dream’ (2007, in Augoustinos and De Garis, 2012) (note that this is not the same framework that Augoustinos and De Garis used – the key ideas are the same but their analysis is more detailed and goes beyond the scope of this week).
So our family’s story, the story, the story of my grandfather and grandmother, my mother, the story of Michelle and her parents, it’s a story that spans miles and generations. It spans races and realities. It’s the story of farmers and soldiers, city workers and single moms. It takes place in small towns and in good schools, in Kansas and in Kenya, on the shores of Hawaii and in the streets of Chicago. It is a varied and unlikely journey, but one that’s held together by the same simple dream, and that is why it’s an American story. That’s why I can stand here and talk about how this country is more than a collection of red states and blue states because my story could only happen in the United States of America. That’s why I believe that we are not as divided as our politics suggests, that the dream we share is more powerful than the differences we have. I am living proof of that ideal.
Barack Obama, in Augoustinos and De Garis, 2012, p. 571
For each of the statements below, indicate whether you think they are true or false.
a) The context of the speech can be seen at two levels: the immediate context of this pre-election period and the broader socio-historical context, which can help to situate the meanings of American identity.
True
False
View discussion – Untitled part
b) The audience of the speech is comprised of people who were present at the time the speech was given. You can assume that most of the people in the audience were Democrats and thus, probably Obama voters.
True
False
View discussion – Untitled part
c) American national identity is constructed in the speech as diverse but also as united by the ideal of the American dream.
True
False
View discussion – Untitled part
d) Obama presents himself as an unconventional American due to his family history and his Kenyan background. He presents himself as having gone through an ‘unlikely journey’.
True
False
View discussion – Untitled part
e) The purpose of the speech is to convince the audience that Obama is a prototypical American who can lead the American nation by serving as its president.
True
False
View discussion – Untitled part

8 Developing your skills: searching online newspapers and reading critically
Having been introduced to document analysis, you will now learn how to perform effective searches for a particular type of document that is very frequently used in this kind of research: newspaper articles. In Chapter 6 there was much reference to how the media construct national identities. Billig, for instance, used newspaper weather reports to illustrate banal nationalism. You also saw that newspaper articles are often analysed to study how migrants and asylums seekers are socially constructed and the implications of these constructions, such as Othering. Newspapers are therefore a useful source for studying the construction of national identities. You will also develop your ability to read critically.
Activity 8: Searching online newspapers
Allow 20 minutes for this activity
In this activity you will learn how to search for newspaper articles using a database that is widely used by psychology researchers: Nexis UK.
Go to the ‘Searching online newspapers’ page of the Open University’s Library Information Literacy website and complete the activity.
Activity 9: Reading critically
Allow 20 minutes for this activity
Go to the ‘Developing critical reading in psychology’ page of the Open University’s Library Information Literacy website and complete the activity.

9 Summary
This week you have learned how psychologists have studied nations and national identities. You have focused particularly on the social constructionist approach which suggests that nations and national identities are socially constructed and are thus subject to change and contestation. You have also learned how psychologists have studied nationalism – paying particular attention to Billig’s ‘banal nationalism’ framework – and considered the process of Othering in relation to national identities. In particular, you explored how Othering works to exclude some groups and individuals (such as migrants and asylum seekers) from the national community.
The topic of migration has been used this week as a way to discuss how psychologists have studied multiple identities and acculturation. You have learned, for example, the distinction between the acculturation strategy of integration and the acculturation strategy of assimilation. You have also considered some critiques of acculturation research in psychology, such as the assumption that national cultures are distinct from each other. Furthermore, towards the end of this week’s study, you have explored the concept of cosmopolitanism and reflected on its value for understanding how people relate to each other in the contemporary world.
Finally, this week you have learned how to perform effective online newspaper searches using the Nexis UK database, and how to read critically.

References
Anderson, B. (1983) Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, London and New York, Verso.
Augoustinos, M. and De Garis, S. (2012) ‘“Too black or not black enough”: social identity complexity in the political rhetoric of Barack Obama’, European Journal of Social Psychology, vol. 42, no. 5, pp. 564–77.
Beck, U. (2002) ‘The cosmopolitan society and its enemies’, Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 19, nos 1–2, pp. 17–44.
Billig, M. (1991) Ideology and Opinions: Studies in Rhetorical Psychology, London, Sage.
Billig, M. (1995) Banal Nationalism, London, Sage.
Blackwood, L., Hopkins, N. and Reicher, S. (2013) ‘I know who I am, but who do they think I am? Muslim perspectives on encounters with airport authorities’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, vol. 36, no. 6, pp. 1090–108.
Bruter, M. and Harrisson, S. (2012) The Psychology of European Identity [Online]. Available at http://news.opinium.co.uk/survey-results/how-european-do-you-feel (Accessed 2 October 2014).
Bryman, A. (2008) Social Research Methods, 3rd edn, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Lynn, N. and Lea, S. (2003). ‘“A phantom menace and the new Apartheid”: the social construction of asylum-seekers in the United Kingdom’, Discourse & Society, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 425–52.
Mummendey, A. and Klink, A. (2001) ‘Nationalism and patriotism: national identification and out-group rejection’, British Journal of Social Psychology, vol. 40, no. 2, pp. 159–72.
Reicher, S. and Hopkins, N. (2001) Self and Nation, London, Sage.
Schatz, R. T., Staub, E. and Lavine, H. (1999) ‘On the varieties of national attachment: blind versus constructive patriotism’, Political Psychology, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 151–74.
Silverman, D. (2006) Interpreting Qualitative Data, 3rd edn, London, Sage.

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Billig explains that traditional psychological research tends to approach all social identities (e.g. religious, national) in the same way. Billig, however, wanted to understand what was specific about nationalism and, through studying the work of scholars such as Benedict Anderson, concluded that nationalism was a new way of conceiving community in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Billig also argues that nationalism has an ideological element that is disregarded in traditional psychological approaches. Furthermore, Billig explains that most research focuses on explaining the development of new nations, or the conflicts between nations, but does not pay much attention to how existing nations are reproduced. This led him to develop his ideas about banal nationalism.
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For Billig, nationalism does not only define a person’s relation to their national community; it is also a way of understanding the world as being comprised of bounded and separate nations. In other words, nationalism is about imagining the world as being comprised of nations, and that nationalism goes hand in hand with internationalism.
The ideology of nationalism is also, for Billig, reproduced in ‘common sense’. As an example of this commonsensical ideology of nationalism, Billig uses the commonly held assumption that the world is naturally divided into nations. Disagreements may exist on where national boundaries should be drawn (as in the case of the Scottish referendum) but the very existence of the institution of the nation is taken for granted.
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Billig argues that the differentiation between patriotism and nationalism represents a differentiation between a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ type of nationalism, whereby everyone included in the ‘us’ group is portrayed as being a ‘good patriot’ and those in the ‘them’ group as being ‘bad nationalists’. Billig rejects this on the grounds that it is purely a sentimental distinction which sees other people’s loyalty to a nation as being ‘nationalism’ and one’s own loyalty as being ‘patriotism’.
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Banal nationalism refers to anything that reminds people that we live in a world of nation states – reminders that go unnoticed by people every day. These include, for example, flags on buildings or official uniforms, or even the language used by people (e.g. ‘the’ weather, meaning the weather of the UK). In contrast, hot nationalism refers to instances of nationalist enthusiasm in which the nation is explicitly flagged; for instance, when people go to war under the name of a nation state. Critically, Billig argues that everyday banal nationalism is not the opposite of hot nationalism, but that it is the basis for the development of hot nationalism.
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Participants describe the challenges of migrating to another country in terms of acquiring cultural knowledge that would facilitate their everyday lives. Emma, for example, talks about the difficulties of not having a common-sense understanding of how things work in everyday life, such as how to open a bank account. Massimo talks about acquiring knowledge of local customs and becoming proficient in the local language as it is used in everyday interactions. Jasper discusses the need to understand the rules and norms that guide everyday interactions.
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Answer
Participants talk about national identity in different ways. Jasper sees himself as having a connection with both Germany and Britain but resists defining himself in terms of nationality. Tabitha and Heather talk about national identity in terms of having a mixture of diverse affiliations and being connected to multiple places (this is similar to the concept of hyphenation, which was described in Chapter 6). For Emma, national identity is malleable; she can adapt it depending on the context of the circumstances in which she finds herself (this is similar to the concept of compartmentalisation from Chapter 6). Massimo, on the other hand, suggests that he is Italian first and foremost (similar to the concept of cultural dominance from Chapter 6), but he also feels closer to the English than to the Italian culture (thus revealing a more complex picture of hyphenation).
On the whole, even from this short video clip, you can see that the ways in which migrants negotiate their identities can be quite complicated, varied and dynamic. All participants agree that migrating to another country has significantly affected the ways in which they see themselves.
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Pause for thought
Answer
For Billig, cosmopolitanism and nationalism are interlinked. Nationalism does not only refer to people’s attachments to a single nation state, it also entails imagining a person’s nation as being part of a world of nations. In this sense, nationalism encompasses internationalism. Hence, for Billig, cosmopolitanism does not contradict nationalism; rather, developing an international perspective on the world is based on a ‘nationalistic’ view of the world as being comprised of nations.
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Activity 2: ‘Being British’
Discussion
Content of the test
If you are a British citizen or have spent some time in the UK, you may have found that you had difficulty answering some of the questions on the test. If you are not a British citizen or are unfamiliar with the UK, you may have thought that the test questions are rather specific in a way that cannot capture the variety and diversity of views about what it means to be member of a country. A common criticism of the Life in the United Kingdom test is that many British citizens, including those who have spent most of their lives in the UK, are not able to pass it. A possible reason for this is that the test is based on a narrow understanding of what life in the UK is about. For instance, some of the historical events on which some of the questions are based will be unfamiliar to many residents of the UK, as they do not directly relate to their everyday lives and concerns.
Scope of the test
You may think that a different set of questions in the test would assess ‘Britishness’ more accurately. However, is the meaning of British identity the same for everyone? Is it stable in different contexts across time and space? In this week you will evaluate the idea that nations are not pre-existing entities but rather are socially constructed. This means that they are not objective or natural. What it means to be a member of a national community can vary across contexts and may change over time. A related criticism is therefore that a single 45-question test is unable to capture the variety of viewpoints that exist about life in the UK. For instance, the Life in the United Kingdom test assumes that familiarity with certain sports, such as football, and with certain authors, such as Chaucer and Austen, forms part of the knowledge a person needs in order to be granted British citizenship.
Constructing ‘us’ and ‘them’
Finally, the Life in the United Kingdom test has been criticised for being exclusionary. Those who do not share the state’s understanding of what life in the UK is about (as assessed in the citizenship test) would not be able to pass the test. Like many other tests, this test distinguishes between those who ‘deserve’ to pass (and thus have a chance at gaining citizenship) and those who do not (and thus are not eligible for citizenship), as judged by the pass criteria of the test. We can therefore describe the test as a way of creating national boundaries – of differentiating between ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’. As you will see throughout the week, how ‘we’ define ‘our’ nation also has implications for ‘them’ (those who are excluded from this definition).
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Activity 5: Othering in encounters with airport authorities
Discussion
In a context where Muslims in the UK are commonly stigmatised due to their religion, race and culture (as you read in Chapter 6), many participants of this study reported being frequently stopped for further checks when returning to the UK from abroad. The extracts show how encounters with airport authorities make some British Muslims feel unwelcome in Britain. These participants described feeling ‘as the other’ and an ‘alien’ because they are frequently stopped at airports despite carrying a British passport. This can be described as an instance of Othering whereby British Muslims are considered to be different and potentially threatening. For the participants of this study this was seen as a devaluing experience that questioned their national belonging. People’s sense of belonging is therefore not only affected by how they see themselves but also how others see them (including state authorities), as you also saw in Chapter 6.
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Pause for thought
Discussion
The EU is one example of this. Citizens of EU member states are citizens of both their nation states and the EU. Indeed, like many countries around the world, the EU has its own currency, flag and political structures (e.g. the European parliament). European identity can be described as being a superordinate identity. Although people’s sense of European identity is not particularly strong compared to national identities, it appears to be on the rise. In a recent study, Michael Bruter and Sarah Harrison found that European identity was strengthening during the research period of 2009 to 2012. They found it went hand in hand with national identity rather than against it (Bruter and Harrison, 2012). If you’re interested, you can read Bruter and Harrison’s article.
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Activity 6: National identity and immigration documents
Discussion
Political speeches
Martha Augoustinos and Stephanie De Garis (2012) conducted their study on how Barack Obama constructed US national identity during his pre-election campaign.
Newspaper articles
Nick Lynn and Susan Lea (2003) studied letters to the editor in their analysis of how asylum seekers are socially constructed in the UK.
Online texts
Statements from Scottish independence campaigns were used in Chapter 6 to illustrate the ways in which the meaning of national identity can be debated upon.
There are other types of documents that can be used as data; for example:
• personal diaries
• official documents, such as Home Office documents on immigration policy
• visual material, such as photographs, cartoons and films.
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Untitled part
Discussion
This is true. The context of the speech is that it was delivered during the election period, so this is an electoral campaign speech. You should also consider the broader historical and cultural contexts as they would help you understand the unconventionality of Obama’s candidacy and the meanings and importance of the American dream for the American nation.
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Untitled part
Discussion
This is false, or rather, not entirely correct. While the people who were present at the speech indeed formed the immediate audience, it is important to also consider the broader audience that Obama was addressing. Given that Obama was at the time trying to win the national elections and that the speech would be accessible to people who were not physically present when it was delivered, it can be suggested that the intended audience was the entire American nation (or, specifically, American voters).
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Untitled part
Discussion
This is true. The speech constructs Americans as a diverse nation with regards to race and social class. Moreover, the American dream is presented as a core value that binds all Americans together. This is demonstrated in lines such as ‘the dream we share is more powerful than the differences we have’.
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Untitled part
Discussion
This is false. Obama presents himself as the embodiment of the American nation. His family history is not portrayed as atypical but rather as being aligned with the diversity of the American nation. This is a key issue in the analysis of this extract. On the basis that the American nation is diverse but united through the American dream, Obama is able to present himself as ‘living proof’ of the American dream through reference to his family history.
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Untitled part
Discussion
This is true. Considering that the speech was delivered during Obama’s pre-election campaign, it could be said that the purpose of the speech is to convince the American public that Obama would be able to serve their interests as a leader of the country. To do this, Obama presents himself as a prototypical American (e.g. that he is ‘living proof’ of the American dream) who can relate to Americans of diverse backgrounds.
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Uncaptioned figure
Description
This photograph shows a series of brightly coloured national flags on a road leading towards a United Nations building
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Figure 1: Life in the UK handbook
Description
Figure 1 shows the front cover of the Home Office document ‘ Life in the United Kingdom’. The front of the document is illustrated with images of blue and red figures of people.
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Uncaptioned figure
Description
This cartoon shows three men seated at a desk labeled ‘ Citizenship test committee’. The man in the centre is saying ‘ The main thing is to only accept people who will fit in ‘ It is clear from the cartoon that all three men look exactly the same.
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Figure 2: Michael Billig
Description
Figure 2 is a photograph of Michael Billig
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Figure 3: International migrants, 2013
Description
Two world maps illustrate rates of migration round the world using different shades of the colour to show density. Figure 3 shows how there are more migrants in the global north. Figure 4 illustrates the percentage of migrants within the total population of countries. Again, rates are higher in the Northern hemisphere than the southern hemisphere.
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Uncaptioned figure
Description
This cartoon shows two people arriving at the passport desk of an airport. A uniformed man directs them towards the ‘Other Passports’ desk, The British-Asian couple protest ‘ But we are British ‘ the official says ‘sorry, I am afraid I am on Othering duty today’.
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Uncaptioned figure
Description
This is a photograph of the European Union flag.
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Michael Billig: a world of nationalism
Transcript
[MUSIC PLAYING]
KESI MAHENDRAN
So how did you become interested in the topic of nationalism?
MICHAEL BILLIG
Well, it started with a project which I did on attitudes of the British public – well, really, the English public – to monarchy. And nationalist themes were very important to that because the royal family, people said, it symbolised the nation, and they often also said ‘I expect – we imagine that other nations are jealous of us because we have the royal family.’ So I wrote a bit about nationalism in that book, but I realised, as I was writing it, I didn’t have a great knowledge of nationalism. I didn’t have a historical knowledge.
So, when I finished that work, I just wanted to read about nationalism and there’s some superb analyses of nationalism. Hobsbawm, Gellner, particularly, and then later on Benedict Anderson. And I just started reading it and thought ‘This is fantastic.’ And this is often how I work on a project. It’s not having an idea what I want to do, but what I want to find out. And I think this is an interesting area about which I’m really far too ignorant.
KESI MAHENDRAN
Would you say you were responding to the way that psychologists have traditionally understood nationalism and studied nationalism?
MICHAEL BILLIG
Well, part of my reason for reading was a dissatisfaction with the traditional psychological approach, which is that underneath all identities are common patterns. So that if you’re interested in the social identity of nationalism, you’re looking at something very similar to the social identity of religion or whatever. But I felt this was wrong or wasn’t telling me what I wanted to find out, which is what is specific about nationalism? And the historical works on nationalism was quite revealing, and so I thought that nationalism was a specific sort of ideology which was completely new when it came into the world in the 17th century or 18th century. And just to think that this is just another identity misses out the ideological element. So I felt there was more about nationalism than is contained in either personality theories or identity theories. And I wanted to find out about that.
KESI MAHENDRAN
What did you find out then about that specificity in your approach to nationalism?
MICHAEL BILLIG
Well, not my approach. It’s what I got from these great writers like Gellner and Hobsbawm and Benedict Anderson. But nationalism was a new way of conceiving the community – and indeed, the world. Nationalism is a whole ideology. But nationalism doesn’t refer just to be individual’s relation to their own group or nation. It’s an imagining also of a world as being comprised of bounded nations – one tightly against the other.
And the world of nationalism is also the world of internationalism. When nationalism emerged, so did internationalism. You can’t have one nation without lots of other nations. The world of nationalism was also a world of international treaties, international agreements, and an imagining that the whole world should be comprised of different nations, and this was something completely new.
And as I read on, I started feeling there’s a slight gap – that the concept of nationalism was used more and more to refer to social movements which were involved in setting up new nations or which were rebelling against existing boundaries. And I thought, well, the gap is that they’re not telling us how existing nations are reproduced and how that ideology of a world of nations is also reproduced, so that it’s reproduced as common sense. So that nowadays we think it is absolutely common sense that political formations should be based on nations. People may disagree where one nation should end and another start or whether a large nation should be divided into two nations. We see this recently with the Scottish referendum. Should Scotland be an independent nation?
NEWS ANNOUNCER
People in Scotland will vote in the referendum on independence today with polling booths due to open at 7 o’clock this morning.
MICHAEL BILLIG
But no one would say why do we need nations? It’s taken as assumed that virtually every square foot of the globe’s land surface should be divided into separate nations.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
SCHOOLCHILDREN
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America –
NEWS ANNOUNCER
In American schools, pupils almost universally swear allegiance to the flag weekly or even daily.
KESI MAHENDRAN
So, Mick, can I bring it to the more individual level? In your book, you make a distinction between nationalism and patriotism. Why did you make that distinction?
MICHAEL BILLIG
If you want a sentimental distinction rather than an analytical distinction, a number of researchers have tried to distinguish it, and they brought out scales for measuring nationalist versus patriotist attitudes. And what they’re normally distinguishing is between good and bad nationalism. It seems a very feeble, analytic category and more a sentimental category. If you’re talking about ‘us’, you want ‘us’ to be portrayed as patriots and them to be portrayed as nasty nationalists. But if you’re both ‘us’ and ‘them’ or assuming that the world is comprised of nation states and should be nation states, there’s more overlap than there is distinction.
KESI MAHENDRAN
In 1995, when you wrote the book, you coined this term ‘banal nationalism’. What did you mean by that?
MICHAEL BILLIG
I meant the everyday reminders that you live in a nation state in a world of nation states. It’s not just reminders of your nation but also reminders that the world is now conceived as a world of nation states. And it’s those everyday markers, whether it’s a flag hanging outside an official building or a flag on the uniform of a law enforcement officer, or even the grammar where on the news it said ‘the’ prime minister went somewhere, and ‘the’ prime minister would be the prime minister of the nation in which you’re in. And these are signs that you’re living within a nation state in a world of nation states. And I just wanted to look at those reminders.
KESI MAHENDRAN
Well, that sounds really fascinating. So how did you develop a methodology to investigate that?
MICHAEL BILLIG
So I looked at newspapers for one day. One thing which I did notice in these English editions was the amount of times which the nation – and here, I don’t mean England. I mean the United Kingdom – was referred to.
And on simple matters like predictions of the weather, the weather was assumed to be the weather of the United Kingdom. Small little charts and maps were nearly always of the United Kingdom, even to the extent of missing off the Republic of Ireland and having this island next to the island of Great Britain as if it didn’t have a southern bit. And we take for granted this. No one is saying ‘Oh, look. The weather map – how nationalist it is!’ We say ‘No, this is a weather map!’ It’s part of our everyday life, which we don’t even notice.
KESI MAHENDRAN
Aren’t people just being pragmatic at that point, though?
MICHAEL BILLIG
I’m not interested, as such, in the motives or even in the state of mind which people are having when they’re doing that. I’m more interested in the phenomenon itself – what the picture is.
What the world is in which we’re living. And of course, in one sense, we’re being pragmatic. We’re adjusting to this world. We’re living in this world. But the question is what is this world in which we’re living? And so these are all just everyday signs which are so familiar that I wasn’t pointing out anything which no one had noticed, but I was hoping to point out things which we forget to notice.
KESI MAHENDRAN
How did you get from that reading to the media analysis of one day of newspapers?
MICHAEL BILLIG
I was aware that I needed to show it and have examples. I was also aware that, if I wanted to do it systematically, I would need far more resources and greater patience than I had. I wanted to do something rather quickly, and not so systematically.
KESI MAHENDRAN
So you wanted to capture it, then?
MICHAEL BILLIG
Yes. Yeah. Give examples. Give examples.
I know when I first started thinking about it, and I started noticing symbols of nationhood everywhere. And for a few months, I ruined practically every film I went to see with my wife, because – especially if it was an American film – I’d nudge her and say ‘Look. Look. On the law enforcement’s, on the sheriff’s arm, there’s a stars and stripes. Look in the background, there’s another stars and stripes.’ And she would say ‘Shut up. Shut up. I get the point.’
[MUSIC PLAYING]
KESI MAHENDRAN
Would you say there is a distinction, then, between what’s called ‘hot nationalism’ and ‘banal nationalism’?
MICHAEL BILLIG
Yes.
KESI MAHENDRAN
And how would you characterise that distinction?
MICHAEL BILLIG
I think the easiest way of characterising it is just to think of the national flag. But, mostly, the national flag is raised and lowered outside official buildings and maybe on certain flag poles where it’s not noticed. But, occasionally, the national flag is waved and deliberately waved and cheered. And that’s when you’re going from ‘cold nationalism’, everyday nationalism, to moments of nationalist enthusiasm. For me, nationalism has a particular importance, because so much of the world’s armaments are owned by nation states, and nation states try to – across the world – have a virtual monopoly on weaponry. And, of course, this weaponry is used time and time again – that more people are killed in the interests of the nation and most other interests.
NEWS ANNOUNCER
Nearly 400 military coffins have passed through this town. But now, after four years –
MICHAEL BILLIG
A slaughter in the name of a nation continues. And it shouldn’t just be thought that this slaughter is a product of them – the bad nationalists. It’s also us supporting it.
KESI MAHENDRAN
So you wanted to contribute, in some way, to understanding those processes of the way that boundaries get made?
MICHAEL BILLIG
Yes. To put it crudely, why so many people are willing to kill and die for their nations and have been for the past 200 years. But not only look at it just in terms of those moments when people are fired up with nationalist fears or nationalist emotions, because I believe that they have to be rooted in a much more downbeat view on the world which accepts the reality of a world divided into nations and can’t imagine the world otherwise.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
KESI MAHENDRAN
Why did you say ‘banal nationalism’? Why did you use the term ‘banal’?
MICHAEL BILLIG
I could have called it ‘everyday nationalism’. And, in some respects, I wish I did because the book has been translated into several other languages – some of which don’t have the word ‘banal’. And they’ve had to use their language’s equivalent of ‘everyday’. And, in some sense, ‘everyday’ is easier to understand.
But there was a reason – a specific reason. One of the greatest books which I’ve ever read in the social sciences and which changed my thinking about the world was Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem – a study of a banality of evil, which was on account of a trial of a high-level Nazi war criminal who was in charge of the administration of the Holocaust. And Hannah Arendt said, well, he didn’t come out as a really evil person. He came out as someone who was limited. And that evil is easy to overlook when it’s very banal, when it’s very low-key. Now, I wasn’t wishing to suggest that all nationalism is fascism or Nazism, but nationalism does retain always the potentiality to become extreme. And so as a tribute to Hannah Arendt’s ideas – and actually, personally, as a tribute to a book which I think is a very profound book – I used the word ‘banal’.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
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Everyday perspectives: immigration and national identity
Transcript
EMMA
I’m Australian. My dad’s English. I’ve had a British passport. I’ve travelled on that British passport a few times around Europe, and I needed a change. So, I decided to come to England. That seemed like the best thing to do on the British passport.
MASSIMO
I lived in Rome for roughly 20 years. I moved when I was 22 to England, to London. And I live here for 8 years. Then I lived 11 years in Australia. And now I’m back to London for roughly 3 years.
HEATHER
I’m originally from Geelong in Australia, which is near Melbourne. 15 years ago, I went to Bangkok, stayed there and worked for 6 years, and moved here 9 years ago.
JASPER
I am from Germany. And I lived most of my life in Hamburg, Germany. And I thought, if I’m not going to leave now, I might never leave. So, I thought, even if I go back at some point, I want to get out and see something else for a change.
TABITHA
Up until this year, I lived in Australia and decided to make the move to London. It’s very much part of who I am, but because half my family from England were living in Australia with me, I still always felt I had close a connection to this country.
EMMA
Whether it’s been easy or not, I think there’s been surprise challenges. I think the basics of how you open a bank account or how you get an appointment at the doctors, you sort of take for granted that it’s going to be the same everywhere you go. So, I think in terms of doing the little things, the little everyday things that you don’t think would require that much effort or thought, when they actually take a lot more effort and thought than you first believed, I think that’s when it’s difficult. Because you think, well, this should be so simple and straightforward, and I don’t get it. I don’t understand why it has to be like this. Why can’t it be like at home where I got it?
MASSIMO
I think the most important things that when you move to a country is that you have to get used to the custom of the country. Don’t try to change. I mean, it is difficult because first of all you have the problem with the language. That’s the first thing. Everywhere you go, you need to learn the language. And what you find, that what you study in school, and what is the language speaking in the country is very different. So, you have to get used to that. And that take time.
JASPER
I think it’s usually the little things you realise the most. For instance, for me, if you come from Germany, you kind of expect the UK to be pretty similar because we’re not that far apart. We share a lot of history, but, then again, you notice so many small things in everyday life that are completely different. Just how rule-based behaviour, how people react in certain situations, when people say ‘Sorry’, when they say ‘Hi’, when they say ‘Thanks’. That, I think, becomes more difficult to understand the further you are – the further you are culturally speaking – from the culture you moving to.
TABITHA
I think, in my situation, I definitely had the benefit of having family here. So, that when I arrived, there was a support network already in place. There was places I could stay and friends that lived over here as well that could help me find work. So, for me, I had the advantage of having a support network.
JASPER
I’m having trouble defining myself as a member of a particular nation. I feel like ‘Yeah’, I would say ‘Yep, Germany’s a nice place. But so is the UK’. I don’t really feel like a British citizen: I am not. But I’m not sure if I feel very German either.
TABITHA
I find it hard to distinguish who I really am. I guess, if you speak to anyone here, and they listen to my accent, they will say that I’m Australian. But I feel like I’m a bit of both. And I love being connected to two countries because they have completely different histories and stories and things that I can learn from them.
HEATHER
National identity is something that I’ve actually thought of a lot. I see myself with regards to a lot of things as a bit of a patchwork or eclectic kind of mix of a lot of things. I originally left Australia because I didn’t want to live in a Western country anymore. I wanted to live in Asia. That’s why I went there. And I think I know there’s an Asian part to me; a part that’s only comfortable there. I don’t think it’s just the weather. I think it’s the place, and the people, and who I am, and what I feel like when I’m there.
MASSIMO
So, about the nationality. Of course, I’m Italian. 100 per cent. But, you know, I like to see myself also English as well. Yes, I still look Italian; I sound Italian. But I feel much more English than Italian. What I’m trying to say: I feel much more close to the English culture than to the Italian culture.
EMMA
I’ve been here for two years, and I thought that would mean I’d have an overload of nationality. I would sort of be like celebrating both sides of a cricket victory. But, in fact, I think they’ve kind of neutralised each other out. So, I almost feel like I don’t really have one specific one. I just sort of adapt to wherever I am. It’s a really weird concept and feeling actually. It’s not what I anticipated it to be.
JASPER
I think migration definitely has changed the way I see myself. Because when you migrate to another place, you usually mingle with a lot of other nationalities as well, because you don’t have that background that you have in your home country, usually. So, usually, all the foreigners mingle together. And that even creates a certain sense of unity among them, wherever they may be from. So, you hear a lot more about other cultures. You hear a lot more about other ethnicities and what they find normal. I think migrating – even when I just migrated for one year, then went back to Germany, and then went back to the UK – even at the very first moment, I think that heavily changed how I feel about myself as a German.
HEATHER
If I remember what I was like before I started these big trips and travel 15 years ago, I was definitely a person who was quite happy working in a bank 9 till 5, normal stuff. I really do think about a lot of things differently. I thought I was grown up. I was 38. And I thought I was very open to things, but I think until you’ve travelled, till you’ve lived away, till you’ve had to do a lot of things on your own, you’re really not on your own. And I moved both times by myself.
MASSIMO
For me, it’s been very important to live in different country because, well, it change me. I think it make myself better because it give me more knowledge, because I saw more things. I see it as 100% as a positive.
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Michael Billig: banal nationalism
Transcript
KESI MAHENDRAN:
Ulrich Beck coined the term “banal cosmopolitanism.” Do you have a view on that term and how it relates to “banal nationalism”?
MICHAEL BILLIG:
Well, Ulrich Beck was actually very snooty about my book when it came out, and he wrote that it was almost as if I was looking at something which was disappearing. And at that time, he thought the world was becoming very cosmopolitan and nationalism would disappear. I actually felt he was wrong, and I think he probably now realises that the nation-states are going to be around for little a while longer.
The term “banal cosmopolitanism” doesn’t actually contradict my thesis at all because the Age of Nationalism is always the Age of Internationalism. And so you have these contradictory things within nationalism, which is both a sense of attachment to the individual nation-state but also an awareness of a correctness of a world comprised of different nation-states and that your nation-state cannot live in isolation. And so you would predict the growth of the cosmopolitanisation or the growth of an international perspective in the age of nation-states.
KESI MAHENDRAN:
In your answer, then you said that he sort of slowly realised that, actually, nationalism hadn’t particularly gone away?
MICHAEL BILLIG:
Yeah. Well, he thought it was disappearing.
KESI MAHENDRAN:
Yeah. Yeah.
MICHAEL BILLIG:
We were moving towards a cosmopolitan world. I think he supported the idea of a cosmopolitan world. He was worried about the narrowness of nationalism. I actually think he was too optimistic. I think some of what he’s written now is of the dangers of multinational corporations and the dangers of the destruction of the planet and that some of these problems will only be, if not resolved, but attenuated by nations cooperating with nations.
How do you get multinational corporations to pay their taxes? You don’t get that unless the national governments, which raise revenue, cooperate together. There’s no international organisation, no cosmopolitan organisation to collect those taxes.
KESI MAHENDRAN:
So in terms of cooperation, there now may be a place for national–
MICHAEL BILLIG:
Yeah. If we’re going to save the planet from– say, from ecological destruction, at least at the moment, it needs nation-states to come to agreements in international organisations like the United Nations or the European community and so on. It can’t be done by individuals, and you cannot trust multinational corporations to work for these ends.
KESI MAHENDRAN:
So do you think that Beck risked idealising cosmopolitanism?
MICHAEL BILLIG:
I think he did. I think he did.
I think it’s worthwhile to retain idealistic visions. A world without idealistic visions is going to be a conservative world, but I think, 20 years ago, his hopes of a more cosmopolitan world, I think, clouded his cynicism.
KESI MAHENDRAN:
So what about your own idealism then? You’ve given an account of a scientific investigator. Do you have a sense of idealism that informs your work?
MICHAEL BILLIG:
We are products of our own time. And as social scientists, we are obviously- come into the work trailing other beliefs and other hopes and so on. And I’m sure there are assumptions which I bring into my work which I’m not aware of and which may be naive.
In terms of idealism, I think there’s two elements. One is rather close at hand, which is idealism within academic work. I do worry about the state of universities and the state of academic life at the moment. It’s becoming very corporatised. I actually feel that my generation of academics has betrayed academic ideals and the next generation is administering that betrayal. I look forward to young academics rebelling against this because always it’s the young who need to rebel and change the world.
The second element is I hope that academic work can contribute to an understanding of an inequality and also assumptions of prejudice– not to make those assumptions stronger, but for people to be aware of them and to question them and question what is often taken for granted.
KESI MAHENDRAN:
And given that we have high levels of mobility today, would you say that the concept of banal nationalism is still relevant?
MICHAEL BILLIG:
Yes. High mobility doesn’t necessarily mean the end of nationalism. Actually, in the 18th century, there was enormously high levels of migration and movement of populations. And that was the age when nation-states were created. And particularly movements out of Europe by Europeans. So the mere fact of movement doesn’t mean the end of nation-states– whatever some on the right wing might like to say.
KESI MAHENDRAN:
So movement in itself doesn’t mean the end of nation-states, but perhaps movement means that people in any one given nation-state come from a variety of backgrounds with a variety of loyalties and allegiances. So you’re own consciousness, say, of the flag on the shoulder or the flag that goes up every day on the side of the building, is that, an individual level– are there more and more people who notice those things so it becomes less of taking grant of state?
MICHAEL BILLIG:
Well, again, politicians who oppose immigration use a similar argument saying established nations are being weakened because they’re losing their core because all the outsiders are coming in. What is often forgotten is that the established nations, when they were established as nations, were full of very, very different peoples.
Take France for example. At the time of the Revolution, which we can date as the modern French state, it was only a minority of a population which spoke French. And those who spoke Oc often felt themselves very different from the Bretons who felt themselves very different from the Parisians who felt themselves different from the Basques in France and so on. The nation of France had to be created by superimposing on these differences a national identity. Those divisions between the peoples we now think are the peoples of France were much deeper and greater than the differences of immigrants to France from North Africa or from other parts of the European Union. So the idea that we had these united nations in the past and it’s all being undermined by movements of population is a myth.
KESI MAHENDRAN:
A sort of myth of monoculturalism, isn’t it?
MICHAEL BILLIG:
Yes. Yes. Which never existed. In fact, if we look to Britain, the same. In the 17th century, it wasn’t united.
In fact, in the seventeenth century, there was a bloody civil war in Britain. And we can’t imagine that at the moment. Thank goodness.
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DD210
Week 28: Consolidation
Jim Turner

© 2015 The Open University
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1.1

Contents
• 1 Introduction
• 2 Block summaries
2.1 Block 1: Understanding minds
2.2 Block 2: Making sense of our relationships with others
2.3 Block 3: Understanding our place in the world
2.4 Block 4: Making sense of the world, and sometimes failing
2.5 Block 5: Living psychological issues
• 3 Consolidating your methods understanding
• 4 Reflecting on your skills development
• 5 Developing your skills: preparing for the EMA

1 Introduction

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This is the final taught week of the module. The week is given over to consolidation, with much of the time allocated as independent study time for you to go back over the main content and themes of the module. Section 2 provides a brief summary of each of the five module blocks, drawing out their key themes. Section 3 then provides some guidance on how you should go about consolidating your understanding of the methods points raised throughout the module and Section 4 provides consolidation advice for the academic skills that you have developed. Section 5 covers skills you will need for the EMA.
Note that Section 2 is only intended to give you a brief reminder of what was covered in the block topics – the summaries are not intended to be comprehensive revision tools on their own. You will need to use the summaries to identify which aspects of the module to focus your consolidation efforts on, and then go back to your own notes and the relevant module materials to reinforce your learning and understanding.
Note also that Sections 3 and 4 do not go through all of the methods and skills again, but are intended as a reminder of the level of methods knowledge and skills development that you should have acquired and achieved during the module. After reading Sections 3 and 4, you should reflect on your experiences throughout the module, and identify where you should focus your efforts to fill any gaps in your understanding. In terms of the skills, you should pay particular attention to the feedback you received from your tutor on your TMAs, which will have highlighted both your strengths and weaknesses. You can then revisit any activities that develop the skills that you feel you need to hone.
Once you have done so, you should turn your thoughts to the end-of-module assessment (EMA). The skills section this week (Section 5) focuses on the EMA, so make sure you allow yourself enough time to work through that section. After this week, you will have three EMA weeks (Weeks 29, 30 and 31 in the module calendar) which you should use to work on your EMA. You should also, of course, check the EMA deadline date in the study planner and ensure that you know the process and requirements for submitting the assignment.
By the end of this week you should be:
• confident that you have understood the topics, methods and main themes of the module
• aware of your strengths and weaknesses, especially with respect to the skills that you have developed throughout the module
• ready to approach the end-of-module assessment (EMA).

2 Block summaries
Sections 2.12.5 provide brief summaries of the main content and themes of the five module blocks. You should use these, in conjunction with your own much more detailed notes made throughout the module, to identify which areas you feel confident about and which you would benefit from revisiting. You may find it helpful to consider the requirements of the EMA when making this decision: if there are areas that you don’t feel entirely confident about that are explicitly included in the EMA, then you may wish to focus most on those. Throughout the summaries in Sections 2.12.5, the sub-disciplines of psychology on which the block most heavily draws are emboldened to help you to identify connections between topics that draw on similar traditions. You may also find it useful to use the indexes of Books 1 and 2 and the ‘Search this website/document’ function on the module website to find connections between different topics.
At this point you should read the book Conclusion, which you will find at the end of Book 2. Once you have read the book Conclusion, you should return here and continue your study with Section 2.1.
2.1 Block 1: Understanding minds

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Block 1 covered the broad theme of ‘understanding minds’. The block began, in Week 2, by looking at ‘mindreading’, particularly exploring theory of mind (ToM) and how it develops in children. In doing so, Week 2 drew heavily on developmental psychology, which focuses on the way people change throughout the lifespan, especially during childhood. It also drew on cognitive psychology by looking at the way people process information (e.g. about others’ knowledge and beliefs), and social psychology, in the way that ToM affects how people understand, relate to, and interact with others.
The concept of ToM also featured heavily in Week 3, which focused on animal minds and considered how human psychology reflects the place of our species within the rest of the animal kingdom. Week 3 drew on ideas from evolutionary psychology, which explains how aspects of minds, such as emotions, problem-solving abilities and ToM, can provide a survival advantage, and comparative psychology, which explains how such abilities differ between species. In respect of the latter, Week 3 also looked at whether human minds are unique by considering the extent to which they are different from and similar to those of other species.
ToM also played an important role in Week 4, ‘Mindreading difficulties – examples from clinical psychology’, which looked at differences in minds within the human species, in contrast to Week 3’s comparison of humans and other species. As the week title indicated, much of the material was based in clinical psychology, which is the sub-discipline that looks at differences between people, particularly differences that can be related to psychological distress, mental health problems or other difficulties that people can experience. The two different clinical conditions that were explored – autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and psychopathy – are different in many respects but are connected by both being associated with ToM. However, while ASD can be considered part of developmental psychology, as it is generally treated as a condition affecting child development, psychopathy is most often considered to be part of forensic psychology, as much of the research and theory has focused on criminal psychopaths (even though most criminals are not psychopaths, and most psychopaths are not criminals).
Week 5 explored a very different way of understanding minds, moving away from the focus on biological organisms (i.e. people and other animals) in the earlier parts of the block and instead thinking about ‘artificial minds’. While drawing on cognitive psychology to some extent (e.g. how information is processed) and biological psychology (e.g. the action of neurons and synapses), many of the ideas in this area come from other disciplines entirely. Many of the more conceptual ideas, such as ‘qualia’ or the ‘problem of other minds’, come from philosophy, whereas many of the technical and practical ideas come from computing (e.g. programming artificial ‘intelligences’ such as ELIZA). This is therefore an excellent example of interdisciplinarity: theorists and researchers from several disciplines all contributing different ideas and skills to a problem that none of the individual disciplines could effectively address alone.
2.2 Block 2: Making sense of our relationships with others

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Block 2 covered the broad theme of ‘making sense of our relationships with others’. You learned in Block 1 that part of relating to others involves ToM – understanding that other people also have thoughts, emotions, intentions and so on.You also learned about some of the problems that people who have clinical difficulties with mindreading can experience in interacting with others. Block 2 widened out the discussion from how each individual understands others to how people interact and affect each other, not only as individuals but also as groups and members of groups. This block therefore drew heavily on social psychology. Week 7 opened the block with a topic that might, at first, have seemed quite individual: self-esteem. Indeed, much of the psychological research into self-esteem has involved the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, which comes from the psychology tradition of personality and individual differences. As you learned, however, self-esteem is not just an individual trait but one that is strongly affected by others, including the cultural messages given out by society as a whole. It is also a trait that can have a profound effect on people’s relationships with others, both online and in the ‘real’ world.
Week 8 looked at another aspect of how people make sense of their relationships with others, focusing on what happens when relationships go ‘wrong’ in some way and result in conflict. The week explored the causes and effects of conflict in relationships, and also drew on counselling psychology, in which psychological principles are applied to solving the problem of relationship conflict. In addition, although artificial minds and relationship conflict might not seem like topics that have much in common, there is (at least) one common feature: both draw on elements of philosophy. In Week 8 you learned that some relationship counsellors draw on existential philosophy in their practice, an approach which has been called existential psychology. You also learned how principles derived from relationship conflict have been applied in an area of forensic psychology – that of anger management for people who have committed domestic abuse or other violent offences.
Week 9 considered a very different area to which social psychology has been applied, exploring how relationships between people can affect or result in creativity in both artistic and workplace contexts. As with self-esteem, creativity may at first have seemed like something that would have a very individual focus (Week 9 gives the example of the lone ‘genius’). However, as the week explained, creativity is affected by social contexts and many creative acts are the result of collaboration (the example of improvisational theatre illustrated how a group can create something that the individuals working alone would not have been able to create).
Finally in this block you learned about an area of social psychology that has a lot of overlap with politics: nations and immigration. This is social psychology on a very large scale: of the 196 nations currently recognised by the United Nations, 156 have a population of over one million people, with 88 nations having a population of over ten million (the United Nations provides data on national populations, along with many other statistics, on its data page ‘United Nations population information network’). Even the most gregarious person will only ever meet a small fraction of the other people who live in the same nation as they do, and yet most people think of themselves as members of a connected group of nationals. For this reason, as Chapter 6 explained, nations have been referred to as ‘imagined communities’ – that is, they are present in people’s minds, even though people do not directly encounter most of the other members of the ‘community’. Despite this (or perhaps because of it), nationality can be an important part of people’s personal identity, which is shown especially strongly when it is challenged or needs to adapt to new circumstances, for example by migration. Most of the time, however, it goes unnoticed, becoming what Michael Billig has termed ‘banal nationalism’.
2.3 Block 3: Understanding our place in the world

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In a way, Block 3 both narrowed and broadened the focus from the themes of Block 2. It narrowed it in the sense that, at the beginning of Block 3, you returned to thinking about the individual; and it broadened it in the sense that, throughout the block as a whole, you considered the role of the environments in which people live (the environment in this case meaning the whole of the physical environment, not just the social environment made up of other people).
Week 12 opened the block by asking you to think again about the self, but thinking about different aspects from those you had learned about in Block 2. While Week 7 focused on self-esteem as an aspect of personality linked to social psychology, Week 12 began by looking at how an individual comes to consider themselves as an individual. Parts of Week 12 drew on developmental psychology, as you learned how children develop an understanding of their own physical selves. Parts of the block drew on clinical psychology, for example in explaining how Alzheimer’s disease can affect the sense of self. There were also links to social psychology and how people’s sense of self affects their interactions with others (and vice versa). You also considered some important elements of application, such as how psychological knowledge can be applied to help people who have undergone amputations.
Weeks 13 and 14 explored how people relate to their physical environments, and the effects that those environments can have on people, both psychologically and physiologically. Week 13 focused on the ‘natural’ world while Week 14 focused on the ‘urban’ world. However, as you learned, the distinction between the two is not always clear-cut in practice; for example, parks and gardens in cities are not ‘natural’, strictly speaking, although they include many natural features, such as trees, plants and wildlife, and many areas of apparently natural countryside have in fact been modified by human activity (e.g. rolling hills from which trees were removed centuries ago to allow domesticated animals to graze). Nonetheless, environmental psychology (drawing on ideas from evolutionary psychology) argues that certain environments, or aspects of environments, promote psychological and physical health while others are detrimental to them (thus also linking to health psychology). You also encountered examples of how environmental psychology can be linked to forensic psychology (and the related discipline of criminology), in that aspects of the physical environment can influence crime rates as well as fear of crime and feelings of personal safety.
The final week in Block 3 broadened out the discussion to an even larger aspect of the environment: the world as a whole, and the important issue of anthropogenic climate change. This is another interdisciplinary topic, which involves the physical and natural sciences, engineering, politics, economics, geography and possibly other disciplines, as well as psychology. It is an issue of importance for psychologists for two main reasons. First, the threat of climate change affects people psychologically – you learned how the idea of defence mechanisms, borrowed from psychoanalysis, has been applied to understanding people’s different reactions to the threat of climate change. Second, combating anthropogenic climate change will require a change in people’s behaviour, which involves understanding the motivations, attitudes and cognitive processes underlying those behaviours.
2.4 Block 4: Making sense of the world, and sometimes failing

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The theme of Block 4 is arguably the most wide-ranging issue in all of psychology: how people make sense of everything, including both the physical world and the social world, and themselves and their own thought processes. Week 18 opened the block by considering various aspects of ‘making sense of the world’, drawing on biological psychology (in describing how information from the world is sensed and how the brain is organised and can adapt) and cognitive psychology (in describing how the sensed information is processed to arrive at a representation of what is ‘out there’ and how it can be interacted with). Some of this discussion also drew on theories from evolutionary psychology, particularly the ideas of error management theory, which explains how ancestral survival pressures shaped human cognitive processes. Week 18 also linked to aspects of social psychology, particularly how people share and understand stories and how event schemas help people make sense of social situations, and forensic psychology, in terms of how jurors make sense of evidence by turning it into a ‘story’.
In covering how people make sense of the world, Week 18 touched on situations where sense-making can go wrong (e.g. in visual and auditory illusions). Week 19 developed this idea further, drawing on research from cognitive psychology showing how frequently people make a wide range of mistakes – to the extent that they can be considered ‘everyday errors in making sense of the world’. These errors are almost paradoxical, as they are a result of human intelligence rather than stupidity: the same cognitive processes that allow people to (often) make very quick and accurate judgements and decisions also cause people to make (often fairly consistent) mistakes. For example, the processes that enable people to link causes and effects can lead to erroneous teleological thinking; the processes that allow people to perceive faces and other important stimuli from minimal information cause pareidolia; and the processes that allow for accurate identification of connections between events can cause people to see patterns in randomness (apophenia) and misunderstand risks.
Weeks 20 and 21 explored some specific examples of how failing to (accurately) make sense of the world can lead to extraordinary, and sometimes quite damaging, consequences. Drawing largely on cognitive psychology, Week 20 considered how the types of processes and errors that were outlined in the previous weeks of the block can cause people to believe in paranormal and supernatural claims that have no basis in scientific fact (this also links back to Block 3, which gave an example of people’s perceptions of ‘spooky’ environments). While some of these claims could be considered to be a ‘bit of fun’, and are often treated as such by the people who engage with them, others can potentially have very serious consequences – particularly those that are connected to medicine (and, relatedly, health psychology). Week 21 developed the discussion of extraordinary beliefs into aspects of personality and individual differences by looking at the extent to which consistent personality characteristics exist between believers and non-believers in conspiracy theories. It also drew heavily on social psychology and how sociocultural factors influence the ways in which conspiracy theories develop and are communicated, shared and used.
2.5 Block 5: Living psychological issues

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The final block of the module took the theme of ‘living psychological issues’, although that is not to suggest that the issues in the first four blocks are in any way ‘dead’. Block 5 covered four quite different topics: extreme circumstances, sex and sexuality, living online, and self-help. What these topics have in common with each other (and with some other topics on the module) is that they are all areas of applied psychology that are, in a sense, ‘difficult’ and have been (and in some respects still are) contentious. These topics are ‘difficult’ not in the sense that they are harder to understand or more technically complex than others, but in the sense that the issues can be emotionally difficult for the people involved, as well as often being practically difficult for researchers to investigate.
These difficulties are quite starkly apparent in the topic of extreme circumstances, which you explored in Week 23, as extreme events are often (at least potentially) traumatic for the people experiencing them. Much of the work on extreme circumstances has focused on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which as a psychological disorder is based in clinical psychology, and ways of helping to deal with it, some of which would fall within the sub-discipline of counselling psychology. Some forensic psychologists may also work with victims of traumatic crimes, although the focus of forensic psychology is more commonly on understanding and helping to rehabilitate offenders.
Sex and sexuality, the topic of Week 24, can also be an emotionally difficult topic for some people. This may be especially so for people who have a sexual identity that has been marginalised or even considered to be a ‘disorder’, as was once the case with homosexuality and BDSM in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Because of this, some aspects of sex and sexuality that have been historically thought of as ‘abnormal’ or ‘dysfunctional’ have been considered to be part of clinical psychology, while others that have historically been thought of as ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ have been explored from a more biological or evolutionary psychology perspective. More recently, psychologists and sexologists have come to understand sex and sexuality as involving biological, psychological and social (including sociocultural) elements, so a ‘biopsychological’ or ‘biopsychosocial’ approach to the topic is now considered to be most appropriate.
Week 25 explored the topic of ‘living online’, drawing on the very new (even for a relatively young academic discipline such as psychology) sub-discipline of internet psychology. However, in reality, internet psychology draws on theories and research findings from more established areas of psychology, applying them to the new context of the internet. For example, you learned how the five-factor model of personality (which you previously encountered in the context of personality characteristics of conspiracy theorists), grounded in personality and individual differences, has been used to look for correlates of people’s online behaviour. You also learned how social psychology concepts of self-presentation, models of aggressive behaviour, and social presence theory (among others) have been used to understand people’s online behaviour, including negative activity such as trolling and bullying which, if taken to extremes, could constitute criminal activity (and thus link to forensic psychology). On the more positive side, you learned about online social support, which links to counselling psychology.
The final week of the block, Week 26, in a way stands in contrast to many other topics on the module: while some other topics may have initially seemed to be odd areas for psychologists to get involved in (e.g. immigration or climate change), self-help is a topic that seems to intuitively ‘belong’ to psychology. It is inherently about the personal difficulties that people face in life and how they can overcome them and better themselves. What could be more psychological than that? However, as you now know, very little of the self-help industry has any basis in psychological (or any other kind of) evidence, being largely produced by self-appointed ‘experts’ with no relevant training, qualifications or knowledge. Some self-help advice is based in positive psychology, and there is a recent move towards self-help based on understanding cognitive psychology (e.g. helping people to recognise, and hopefully mitigate against, the types of cognitive bias that you learned about in Block 4). There is also, of course, some counselling psychology-based self-help, but nonetheless the majority of the self-help industry currently has no sound psychological basis. In addition, arguments from critical psychology have begun to be used to question the basic premise of self-help, with its predominantly individualistic focus which ignores social and cultural factors.

3 Consolidating your methods understanding
Throughout the module you have encountered a very wide variety of research methods. In addition to the descriptions and explanations of individual research studies given throughout the main topic material, you have also, of course, explored a number of methods issues in-depth in the ‘Focus on methods’ sections. From these, you should have developed a sound appreciation of how we know things in psychology as well as what we know about the specific topics covered. In fact, as you approach the end of DD210 and prepare to move on to your next module, you could consider the knowledge about methods which you have now gained to be the most important thing to take away with you. Whether or not any specific fact or finding (what we know) will be useful to you on your next module, or the one(s) after that, is impossible to predict. However, your understanding of how we know things will be useful whatever direction you take in your future studies. Psychology is a fundamentally empirical – that is, evidence-based – discipline, and understanding where evidence comes from, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and how to make sense of it are critical academic skills.
Knowledge of research methods also provides you with extremely useful life skills. When you encounter any kind of factual claim, whether made by a researcher or by a non-scientist such as a politician or advertiser, you are now better equipped to ask ‘what evidence have they got to support that claim?’ and to evaluate the evidence (if any) that is given. For example, you know to be alert to small sample sizes, surveys with biased questions, experiments with inadequate controls, closed-question interviews when more open interviews would be appropriate, correlations being used to imply causation, and how the placebo effect can make a useless treatment appear to be effective.
As you review the module topics, then, do not neglect the methods material. In particular, just as with the topic content, it would be a very good idea to reflect on your understanding and try to identify which aspects of the methods you don’t feel you fully understand. You should then revisit those ‘Focus on methods’ sections, either through the study planner as you revisit that week’s content, or using the listing in the ‘Study resources’ area of the website if there are specific methods sections that you want to directly visit.

4 Reflecting on your skills development
Having completed five TMAs during the module, you hopefully now feel that you have successfully developed your skills in a number of areas. Some of this development was practising and/or building on skills that you had already acquired on previous modules, such as referencing appropriately, avoiding plagiarism, working with tutor feedback, and improving your essay writing. Other skills may have been entirely new to you, such as accessing certain library resources, presenting ideas using multimedia, writing non-empirical reports, and evaluating claims, arguments and ‘pop’ psychology.
The skills that you have developed on DD210 are not just necessary for the TMAs and EMA on this module – they will also be useful to you in future modules. Broadly speaking, many of the skills that you have developed on DD210 fall into three categories: finding information, evaluating information, and communicating information. The following list provides examples (although this list is not exhaustive):
• Finding information: searching for literature (Week 7); searching for online news sources (Week 10)
• Evaluating information: reading critically and evaluating information (Week 3); critically evaluating ‘pop’ psychology (Week 24)
• Communicating information: using multimedia to present ideas (Week 14); writing non-research reports (Week 21).
Finding, evaluating and communicating information are vital skills in any academic discipline, so the skills that you have developed on DD210 will serve you well in the future. They will also help you to complete your EMA successfully, so, after working through Section 5, you should take some time to reflect – being as honest with yourself as you can – on whether there are any areas in which your skills still need some work.

5 Developing your skills: preparing for the EMA
The EMA assesses the knowledge that you have acquired, and the skills that you have developed, throughout the module. No new skills are required in order for you to complete the EMA, as you will build on ones that you have already practised throughout your TMAs. This final skills section is intended to help you to identify where you have previously used the necessary skills for the EMA in your TMAs, so that you can review them and give yourself the best chance of success in your EMA.
An important part of preparing for your EMA will be going back over your marked TMAs. Your tutor will have identified your strengths and weaknesses, so you should reread the feedback and advice from your tutor about how well you demonstrated your skills in each of your TMAs. Pay particular attention to any areas that your tutor indicated that you needed to work on further. You may find it helpful to use the ‘Developing your skills’ listing in the ‘Study resources’ area of the module website, and follow the links to the particular skills activities that you feel you would benefit from revisiting, if you have not already done so.
Part 1 of the EMA takes the form of an evaluative essay, in which you will draw on material from across the module to address issues that are broader than a single topic. The TMAs that helped to prepare you for this part of the EMA were as follows:
• In TMAs 01, 02, 03 and 05 you developed your overall essay-writing skills.
• In TMA 02 you developed your skills of comparing and contrasting different material and/or aspects of a topic.
• In TMA 03 you developed your skills of selecting examples to inform and illustrate your arguments.
• In TMA 05 you developed your skills of critical evaluation.
Part 2 of the EMA takes the form of an applied report, in which you will use psychological evidence to evaluate statements, claims or arguments in a real-world context. The TMAs that helped to prepare you for this part of the EMA were as follows:
• In TMAs 03 and 04 you developed your skills of communicating information in both textual and non-textual formats.
• In TMA 04 you developed your skills of producing a report in response to an applied scenario.
• In TMAs 04 and 05 you developed your skills of evaluating claims in relation to psychological evidence.
In addition, you may wish to do some literature research for one or both parts of the EMA, depending on the extent to which you have already read around the relevant topics and collected additional useful material in your independent study time throughout the module. You may therefore find it useful to review the ‘Developing your skills’ activities that focused on accessing and evaluating academic material from the Open University Library.
You should now read the section of the Assessment Guidance covering the EMA, and the EMA question and guidance itself, and get ready to start work on your EMA. Before you do so, however, the module team would like to wish you all the best, for both the EMA and your future study. We hope that you will continue ‘living psychology’, in ways both everyday and extraordinary!

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BELOW THE ONLINE TUTORIAL GUIDE; PLEASE FOLLOW THIS INSTRUCTION
EMA learning outcomes Knowledge and understanding
Understand a wide range of basic psychological concepts and appreciate how they apply to everyday life.
Understand how psychology addresses issues of diversity, difference and social functioning
Cognitive skills:
Describe and evaluate a range of key concepts in psychology.
Construct arguments based on psychological theories and research findings, recognising the significance of differing approaches and subject positions.
Identify the strengths and weaknesses of different theories and methodologies in psychology, and the relative value of different sources of data and information.
key skills:
Carry out directed literature searches to identify a range of sources of information, and apply appropriate criteria to select relevant material for specific purposes.
Communicate psychological knowledge in a variety of formats suitable for both traditional academic audiences and wider, non-academic audiences.
Apply an appropriate referencing system.
Part 1: Essay (1800 words)
Drawing on examples from across the modules, evaluate the extent to which psychology has explained how people understand either (a) themselves OR (b) each other

Part 2: Report (1200 words)
Write a report analysing the (fictional) blog post provided below, drawing on psychological theories and research to explain why the author is making the claims in the blog post. Your report should be suitable for reading by a non-academic audience.
Ok so lets look at the essay:
1800 words
Introduction 5%- 10% – define terms – which ones? 90 – 180 words
Conclusion 15% – 270 words
Rest of the essay 80% – 1350 words
Approx – 54 – 68 sentences
PESEL paragraphing 9 – 11 paragraphs
So what format are you taking? Blocking? Zigzagging?
Selves :
Self-esteem
Nations and immigration
Boundaries of the self
Sex and sexuality
Part 1 Tips:
Only do one option (a or b)
Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate!!
Strengths and weaknesses of explanations
Soundness of evidence base
Usefulness in the real world
Breadth
Don’t draw heavily on one topic even if you find it interesting
Use additional material e.g. OU library independent research, BUT
Use these to support points based on examples from the module (don’t introduce new topics or areas)
Part two write a report:
1200 words
Analyse and explain
Using psychological theories, concepts and research
Why claims being made in blog post
Audience non-academic
In report format :
Appropriate style and format
Clear and concise
May quote using parts of blog, but do so sparingly 1200 words is not a lot
Keep it to psychological issues (avoid rabbit holes)
Need to be based on psychological theories and research to explain why someone would make these claims
Identify the claims what are they;
What could you get from the course material to support or refute them?

Explain this in layman’s terms

find the cost of your paper