This assignment is the second Living Experiment of the semester. Successful completion of the assignment will add five points to your course total.
Step I: Participate in the Day of Social Justice
On Friday, October 31st, our Social Psychology class will observe a "Day of Social Justice." To participate in this event, your challenge will be to live each minute of that day in as inclusive, unprejudiced, and nondiscriminatory a way as possible. In other words, for a full 24-hour period you should do your best to embody ideals such as fairness, equality, and diversity.
When carrying out this assignment, consider institutional as well as personal forms of injustice and privilege. That is, don't just avoid obvious acts of bias, segregation, and exclusion; think deeply about the injustices that various groups face on campus, in the local community, and in the world more generally, and try to reduce these injustices without behaving in ways that are phony or insincere. It is up to you to define what social justice is and to decide how best to realize it.
Note: To minimize any bias in social reactions, it is best if you do not tell others about the class assignment until after the Day of Social Justice is over.
Step II: Write About Your Experience
At the beginning of class on November 4th, turn in a social psychological analysis of what the day was like (limited to one typewritten doubled-spaced page using 12-point font and 1" margins). Here are some sample questions you might address:
- How did you define social justice, and what did you focus your efforts on?
- If your behavior was different than normal, which person did you like more: the "Day of Social Justice you" or the "normal you"? If you preferred the "Day of Social Justice you," what are the psychological factors that prevent this "you" from coming out?
- What are the psychological costs and benefits of reducing segregation on campus? In your view, do the benefits outweigh the costs?
- How did others respond to you? Do you think they noticed a difference in your behavior? What attributions did people make for your behavior, and why?
- If you wanted to encourage others to behave as you did during the Day of Social Justice, what psychological techniques would you use? How can social psychology be used to foster a more just society?
- If you were to predict your behavior one month from now, do you think it will be changed in any way as a result of participating in the Day of Social Justice? If so, how? If not, why not?
In carrying out this assignment, try to go beyond superficial descriptive accounts and see if you can arrive at social psychological insights that might improve your life, campus, society, or the world. Later in the semester, Professor Plous will share a few of these accounts with the class. If you prefer that your account not be shared, simply make a note of this on the sheet that you turn in.