INVESTIGATING THE SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY OF FEAR
Each term that this social psychology course is taught there is one overarching
theme which also is the topic area for group research projects. During the
Spring 2006 semester this theme involved the social psychology of fear.
A common reading was Barry Glassner's The Culture of Fear.
Sociology 2306 Group Projects
The following, from the course syllabus, lays out the
research problem and possible lines of research:
Poisoned Halloween candy,
pesticides in our water and steroids in our food, asbestos, bad carbs, 911
and Al-Quaida, Britney Spears, SARS, avian flu, guns, global warming,
earth-killing asteroids, obesity, Ebola, cloning, school yard shootings,
cancer, accelerating extinction rates, identity theft, alien abduction,
globalization and job loss, flammable clothing, mad cow disease, bad breath,
immigrants, balding, Catholic priests, same-sex marriages, germs, growing
old, insufficient insurance, road rage--there seems no shortage of things
that people are fearful of these days. Instead of examining whether these
fears have any basis in fact (which seems to be the popular social science
approach to such phenomena), this term we will attempt to answer such
- Who fears what—and to what degree? Are, for instance, men or
women, blacks or whites more fearful of environmental degradation?
- To what extent do these fears vary across various social groups?
Why, for instance, are Democrats more likely than Republicans to fear global
- How do fears shape identities, behaviors, moralities, allegiances,
willingness to sacrifice liberties, and other emotions, such as the feelings of
compassion and love?
- How do various social groups bring attention to (and perhaps even
fan) specific fears in order to gain greater social control?
Here are the summaries of the groups' presentations:
Fear Content of PostSecret.com
Xenophobia in America
- Misplaced Fears Over American Identity
- Homophobia in America: Why the Fear?
- Horror Films
- Fear, Politics & Group Cohesion
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