Read the following description of a meeting between a college student and her adviser. In this example, we
consider the role attributions of motives play in the attribution of deviance and how this can unfold through social psychological processes like stereotyping, labeling, and resistance.
Yidan has been called into Dr. Smith’s office because he believes he has evidence she cheated on the last test. Yidan waited nervously in the line of students outside her adviser’s door until it was her turn. Yidan is a 20-year-old international student from China whose spoken English is a little shaky. Her adviser, Dr. Smith, is a white man in his 50s with a New England accent. While neither of them had discussed with the other their ethnic backgrounds or age and gender differences, they were both aware of them from their physical appearance, manner of dress, and speech. Yidan knew that Dr. Smith was one of several faculty members who had a reputation among students as being harsh graders. Some students even suspected that Asian students were more likely to copy work and help each other on assignments, but he took pride in being fair and actively tried to treat all students the same.
As Yidan entered the office, Dr. Smith closed the door for privacy because what he had to say he didn’t want other students to hear. He got right to the point. He told Yidan that he had reviewed results of the recent online test and several tests showed identical responses including making the same mistakes. One of the tests was hers. He then showed her four essays side by side with identical wording, saying that, to him this appears she deliberately cheated. Then he asked her what she had to say that could explain this.
Yidan at first said nothing. Then, fighting back tears, Yidan pleaded with Dr. Smith to ignore the infraction, saying she could never return home if she was accused of cheating. Her family would disown her and she could never get a good job.
She said she was not like those other students. Most of the students in the class cheat, she said. They cheat all the time. They choose to cheat because it is easier and they think they can get away with it. But this, she said, was the only time she ever cheated. She is normally a good student and just made a tragic mistake. She had broken up with her boyfriend the week before, and was emotionally devastated, making it impossible to study for the test. No one would be hurt if she got a better grade. After all, she was just trying to make up for the way the test is biased against students for whom English is a second language. She said to Dr. Smith, “if you don’t want us to cheat you should not have had the test on the Internet.”
Dr. Smith told her he would think about the situation and decide whether he would report her to the Provost’s office for cheating and possible disciplinary action. She made one last plea before leaving, asking him not to report her. She had changed, she said. She learned her lesson and was never going to cheat again. She is sorry for cheating, she apologizes for her mistakes, and seeks his forgiveness.
Use the information from this meeting to answer the following:
Identify at least one case in which a situational or dispositional attribution is made and indicate whether it corresponds to primary deviance or secondary deviance.
Identify at least two schemata in this example including one related to a stereotype.
Identify one or more identity markers that distinguish categories of people and may be the bias for prejudice and stereotypes.
Identify whether anyone is labeled as a deviant and whether it leads to stigma.
Identify at least one strategy of destigmatization and at least three strategies of neutralization Yidan uses to resist being labeled as a deviant.
For each of these, provide both a definition of the concept and a quotation or close paraphrase from the description above which provides evidence of each concept.
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