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Blue Eyes vs.

Brown Eyes Jane Elliot Film Analysis

1. Two principles that define the sociocultural level of analysis in this video are

belonging and culture.

2. The ethical considerations related to this video are that the study had long-lasting

psychological effects on the participants ( 3RD grade children)

3. the students would have blamed the happenings on situational factors, due to the

actor-observer effect which states that when people identify their own negative behaviour they will usually attribute their mistakes to external factors.


a) The self-serving bias effect was an evident error in attribution that was present in the video when the students took the test and when they did well they attributed it to dispositional factors and when they did bad on the test they attributed it to situational factors, and the related study is a study by Johnson et al. In 1964 when the students were asked to teach other pupils attributed responsibility for increased performance to their teaching, but decreased performance to the students b) The second error in attribution was the fundamental attribution error. From the focus of attention on the group being discriminated against, the teacher was able to attribute dispositional factors to the behaviour of the students in order to generalize and increase the seriousness of the consequences of these behaviours to the entire group. A study relevant to these occurrences was done by Ross et al (1977), in which college students were randomly assigned the roles of questioner, observer, or contestant, where the questioner formed a total of ten challenging questions used to test the knowledge of the contestant. Since the contestants rarely got more than four of the ten questions right, the questioner was consistently rated as the more intelligent individual, despite their ability to invent the questions.

5. The social identity theory was created by Henry Tajfel in 1971, and it says that

individuals strive to improve their social image by trying to enhance their self esteem based on personal or various social identities. There was division between the in-group and out-group within the film, it was easy to see the formation of social comparison. Therefore, by being part of the in-group, a person would be able to improve their self-esteem.

6. The explanations and shared beliefs held by the in-group within the film were that

teacher led the students to believe that people of the opposite eye colour all shared negative characteristics, such as forgetfulness, and used these negative characteristics to form social comparisons.

7. The in-group within the film was whichever eye colour was told to be better (on the

first day being blue eyed students, while the following day switched to the brown eyed students), while the out-group was whichever eye colour was being discriminated against.

8. Stereotyping was used in the film to make a generalization of the out-group by

attributing negative characteristics to all members of the group based simply on the colour of their eyes and actions of one person.

9. Stereotype threat and spotlight anxiety both occurred in the film while the children

were taking part in various activities that tested their intellectual abilities. Stereotype threat occurred in the film when the children that were part of the outgroup feared that they would do something wrong that would inadvertently confirm the stereotype that was held against them during the assessment. It was this self conscious behaviour that created spotlight anxiety when the pressure caused by the negative stereotypes undermined their ability to perform at their full potential. Within the study done by Steele and Aronson (1995) it was found that African American students would score significantly lower than European student when they believed that they were taking a test of their verbal abilities, while scoring significantly higher when they were taking the same test, but told it was a test of how general problems are solved. The study concluded that stereotypes can affect the performance of any cultural group if the members of the group believe in the stereotype. This is similar to the film, when the children come to believe that the stereotypical views of their group determine their true behaviour,.

10. Social learning theory is shown in the video when children begin to imitate there

teacher by saying the same stereotypes that the teacher had mentioned and turned against there friends, simply by watching their teacher and imitating her behaviour. This relates to Banduras Transmission of Aggression (1961), which showed how children imitated aggressive physical and verbal behaviour against a bobo doll after watching and imitating an aggressive model.

11. There were two evident factors influencing conformity that were shown in the

video; group size and unanimity. Both of these can be related to Aschs Conformity in Groups (1951), in which confederates were asked to choose one of three lines that seemed to be equal in height to the line being considered. Within the study, it was evident that group size was an influencing factor, as the more confederates that gave an incorrect answer; the more likely the participant was to conform. This is similar to the film, as the class was separated nearly in half between contrasting eye colours, which is what allowed the conformity to occur in the first place.

12. They were more inclined to comply with the teachers views of the out-group since

she was a figure of authority. This is demonstrated in Milgrams Obedience Study,

in which participants had to administer an electric shock every time the student (who was unknowingly an actor not receiving any electric shocks) gave an incorrect response. Due to the authority of the experimenter, many participants complied with the point where they were administering lethal doses of electricity.

13. Cultural norms are behaviour patterns that are typical of specific groups, often

passed down generation to generation. The simple act of discriminating against individuals based on physical characteristics instead of getting the time to know them personally can be seen as a social norm that has reoccurred throughout history, being passed down from generation to generation.

14. Power distance can be seen as an example of a cultural dimension demonstrated in

the video in two different aspects. First of all, the children showed obedience to the teachers views due to their acceptance of her being the more powerful individual within the classroom. Similarly, students immediately accepted the imbalance of power between the in-group and out-group. The second cultural dimension shown in the video was individualism, as the students were only concerned about their specific power.

15. To decrease hostility amongst children following the lesson, Ms. Elliot could have taken advantage of the social learning theory by rewarding students based on their kindness and punishing them otherwise. One a single student is rewarded, others will admire the positive consequences of their behaviour, and the student will act as a model for the rest of the class. On the contrary, when a student sees his peers being punished for their hostility, the likelihood that students will conform to that behaviour will decrease.

16. The similarities are that they both had a distinctive in-group and out-group and there was in-group bias and the differences were that the Robbers Cave study used only male samples, while within the film, both genders were considered an in the Robbers Cave experiment, boys were divided randomly based on no unifying characteristic, while in the film, groups were determined based on eye colour