Social Psychology

Tutorial 3:
Social Psychology of Prejudice

Last updated:
09 Aug 2005


  • The goal of this tutorial is to debrief the "Ghosts of Rwanda" documentary, identity the social psychological phenomena observed to have occurred, and then to examine prejudice as a possible precursor to aggression and social power.  Furthermore, we tackle the practical questions, "What can be done?" and "What can be done in our own society?".  For example, how can the principles of social psychology be used in workshop settings to bring experiential awareness to the subtle effects of prejudice?  We will examine the controversial approach of Jane Elliott in addressing issues of social prejudice by watching and discussing her video "The Australian Eye", based on her blue-eyed, brown-eyed workshops, set in an Australian context.

Learning Names

  • Use Name Tags, but no time for name games this week - next tutorial there will be more

"Ghosts of Rwanda" Debrief

  • Discuss "Ghosts of Rwanda" (~30mins), e.g.,
    • What were your reactions, feelings, thoughts, etc.
    • Discuss the key learning exercise of identifying all examples of social psychological phenomena which occurred or could be inferred to have occurred as part of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
    • Consider doing the following on the board:
      • Create a timeline of incidents on the board
      • Brainstorm / Mind Map or create a table to show social psychological phenomena (describe if no-one knows) with examples.

Prejudice, Jane Elliott, & "The Australian Eye"

  • Consider these questions:  What are the roots of genocide?  Do stereotypes and in-group biases lead to prejudice which leads to aggression which leads to violence which leads to genocide?  (a long stretch perhaps, but logical).  
  • Often prejudice is understood or claimed to be a critical breeding ground for suppression of minorities and aggression to minorities.  This question is tackled dramatically through Jane Elliott's "Blue Eyed Brown Eyed" workshops where people participate in a live social psychology experiment to help bring to awareness the many subtle ways in which physical differences such as race are used as the basis for prejudice, suppression and social power.  e.g., Australian historians and human rights activists claim that genocide was performed on Aboriginals, with massacres, etc. based on race and power.  "The Australian Eye" (SBS, 2002, 50 mins, Rated: M) demonstrates Elliott's powerful and controversial methods for raising awareness of racial prejudice in a contemporary Australian setting:
  • When Jane Elliott's extraordinary and unique exercise in discrimination - Blue-Eyed - screened on SBS Television, it garnered a huge audience reaction.  Now, Ms Elliott has turned her laser vision on Australia in a confronting but illuminating version of the same exercise, in which participants are forced to experience the unsettling and hostile reality of racism.. In December 2001, Jane Elliott came to Australia to conduct The Australian Eye, an Australian version of her unique discrimination experiment, Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes, in which participants are labelled inferior or superior based purely on the colour of their eyes.  Workshop devised and conducted by Jane Elliott, based on the exercise 'A collar in my pocket'.
  • Discuss video e.g.,
  • Is prejudice the root of violence? 
  • Do Elliott's methods work? 
  • What are the risks with this kind of approach? 
  • How else could workshops with similar goals of raising awareness of inherent power relations be conducted?
  • Further information:
  • The Australian Eye: How Would You React?
    (SBS, 2002)
  • Blue Eyed: A Guide to Use in Organizations
    (Nora Lester)
  • Key Learning Exercise

    • No tutorial next week
    • Prepare and bring in a rough draft of your essay outline for discussion for the next tutorial