GP&IR Track Meeting, 2017-2018: Justification of inequality: Conspiracy beliefs and sexism, Day 2/2

Kurt Lewin Instituut
Heidelberglaan 1
Room Number H1.42
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30 - 253 3027

GP&IR Track Meeting, 2017-2018: Justification of inequality: Conspiracy beliefs and sexism, Day 2/2

Teaching staff
Professor Robbie Sutton (University of Kent), dr. Namkje Koudenburg (University of Groningen) and dr. Félice van Nunspeet (Utrecht University)

Type of course
Theory-oriented Workshops

January 19, 2018

University of Groningen, room to be announced

2 days


Maximum number of participants

1 EC will be appointed for participation in the complete course.

Please note that the two days are integrated into a single course. It is not possible to participate in one of the two days only. Please register for both days.

In this workshop, prof. Robbie Sutton, professor of Social Psychology at the University of Kent, will introduce us to his (collaborative) work on the social psychology of justice and (in)equality, with a specific focus on the psychological mechanisms associated with conspiracy beliefs and the role of ambivalent sexism theory in ideology.
The aims of the workshop are four-fold: participants will
(a) be introduced to relevant theories on the justification of inequality, with a special focus on the role of sexism and gender;
(b) learn about methodological issues regarding self-report scales,
(c) critically think about key methodological tools in social and personality psychology, and
(d) discuss and receive insights about possible academic career developments.

Day 1 - Theoretical Issues: Sexism and Gender
Prof. Sutton will present an overview of the work on Ambivalent Sexism Theory and use this as an example of how ideology works. For example, by masking its own structure and functions, by promising rewards to those who endorse its assertions, and by shaping social reality so that even its most arbitrary assertions take on empirical truth (e.g., by conformity to gender roles and stereotypes). Participants are requested to read key papers, and to prepare questions for the discussion.
In the afternoon, students whose work is (somewhat) related to this topic will present their research (lively interaction with the audience during the subsequent discussions will be encouraged).

Day 2 - Methodological Issues. The Case of Conspiracy Theories
On the second day, Prof. Sutton will start off with a presentation reflecting on the adequacy of agree-disagree scales in social and personality psychology, using his work on conspiracy theories as an example. Critical issues regarding these scales include problems interpreting relations between them given semantic overlap between items measuring ostensibly different things; the difficulty of characterizing scores below mid-point as signifying "agreement" or "belief"; the difficulty of assessing rationality and accuracy on these scales; and the failure of the agree-disagree continuum to capture the ways in which it is possible to engage with and make use of a belief system. These issues come up in conspiracy research, but it also applies to other topics such as prejudice and related constructs where scores are frequently below mid-point. Prof. Sutton will show that these considerations can really make a difference to research findings.
| In the afternoon, students who also deal with (related or other types of) methodological issues in their research will present their approach (again, lively interaction during the subsequent discussions will be encouraged). After that, the workshop will split into groups to stimulate further discussion and work on a group assignment: Students are challenged to think critically about a key methodological tool in social and personality psychology, particularly the use of surveys on 'normal' samples with agree-disagree scales, and the fit with their actual (theoretical) purpose. Every group will briefly present their results.

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