The Clique Negativity Effect
The Clique Negativity Effect is the tendency of a small exclusive group of friends or associates, whom when evaluating the causes of the behaviors of a person they dislike, attribute positive behaviors to the situations surrounding the behaviors and negative behaviors to the person`s inherent disposition. The negativity effect is the inverse of the positivity effect, which is found when people evaluate the causes of the behaviors of a person they like. Both effects are attributional biases. The clique negativity effect plays a role in producing the ultimate attribution error, a major contributor to prejudice.The term "clique negativity effect" (a term which I coined, by the way) also refers to the tendency of some people to assign more weight to negative information in descriptions of others. Research has shown that the negativity effect in this sense is quite common, especially with younger people; older adults, however, display less of this tendency and more of the opposite tendency (the positivity effect).I am a member of several popular Internet marketing forums, and I noticed something quite disturbing. While the majority of these forums are fine, a couple of them have formed a small exclusive group of friends or associates whom practice "clique negativity."Sometimes it`s quite obvious...other times, it`s more subtle.The reason I find this so disturbing is because when a group of people gang up on one individual, the effects can not only be ugly - but devastating to the individual being attacked.Often these attacks occur for no other reason than the person may have dissenting or controversial points of view. The written word, particularly in the English language, can often be easily misunderstood by the reader, especially if the reader has a presupposition about the writer. I`ve seen it happen over and over again on discussion forums, and it can easily disintegrate into verbal fisticuffs if the writer isn`t sensitive enough to realize that the reader may read it with a certain slant.For example, if you don`t like "Joe Smith" for no other reason than the fact your associates don`t like him, you may may arbitrarily read everything that Joe Smith writes and interpret it in a negative light - even if it`s meant to be positive and inoffensive.This is similar to "The Convergence Theory" which holds that group behavior is not a product of the group itself, but is carried into the group by certain individuals. Thus, groups amount to a "convergence" of like-minded individuals. In other words, while "The Contagion Theory" states that groups cause people to act in a certain way, Convergence Theory says the opposite: that people who wish to act in a certain way come together to form groups.A perfect example example of convergence theory is the practice sometimes observed when an immigrant population becomes common in a previously homogeneous area, and members of the existing community (apparently spontaneously) band together to threaten those trying to move into their neighborhoods. In such cases, convergence theorists contend, the group itself does not generate racial hatred or violence; rather, the hostility has been simmering for some time among many local people. A group then arises from convergence of people who oppose the presence of these neighbors. The Convergence Theory claims that crowd behavior as such is not irrational; rather, people in crowds express existing beliefs and values so that the mob reaction is the rational product of widespread popular feeling. (Contributing Source: Wikipedia)So how does The Convergence Theory relate to forums? Let me explain:Because you and your associates don`t like "Joe Smith", because he`s aggressive or controversial or arrogant, you automatically jump to the wrong conclusions about everything he posts. Suddenly you and your forum associates "converge" and start spewing poisonous venom at him, without even trying to find out what he really meant. In essence, you become judge, jury and executioner.Essentially, by immediately assuming the worse about anything Joe Smith posts, you are eliminating any chance to find a peaceful resolution, and perpetuating the clique negativity effect.Wouldn`t it be better, in the interest of peace and human understanding, to simply ask for clarification from him rather than assume the worse? By not doing so, and judging him without learning his true meaning or intentions, you are verbally abusing and hurting another human being for no other reason than your own personal dislike for this person. I think that`s wrong.In closing, if you practice clique negativity, I propose you adjust your attitude and start practicing tolerance; which is the capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the rights, beliefs, ideas and practices of others.Dale KingDKing2007-6-26 14:25:4
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