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Posted: July 26th, 2023

The Application of Social Psychological Theories in A Class Divided

Theories Application Worksheet
You may choose to review readings that include the following topics:
• Categorization.
• Racial stereotypes.
• Prejudice.
• Discrimination.
• Racism.
• White skin privilege.
Complete the media piece, Riverbend City: Theories Application Practice. Your answers in the media piece will help you with this assignment.
Then complete the worksheet below. Be sure to use full sentences (grammar counts), evidence from relevant sources, and APA style citations.

Instruction Your Content
Name of concept or theory:
Summarize the concept/theory. Put it in your own words. 1-4 sentences. Use APA style in-text citations.
Real World Example. Describe an example of what this concept/theory would look like in daily life.
Name of video:
Provide a brief summary of the video. Use 3-4 sentences.
Apply the Concept/Theory. Describe how the concept/theory explains what was depicted in the video. Use 3-4 sentences. Use APA style in-text citations.
APA Style Reference List (include all in-text citations).

A Class Divided (full documentary) | FRONTLINE

The Application of Social Psychological Theories in A Class Divided: Unraveling Categorization, Prejudice, and Discrimination

In the media piece, A Class Divided, the intricate interplay of social psychological concepts is depicted through an experimental exercise conducted by Jane Elliott, a teacher from Iowa, in the aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. The experiment aimed to illustrate how categorization, racial stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, and racism manifest in daily life, ultimately shedding light on the existence of white skin privilege. This article will analyze the theories and concepts explored in the video, applying them to the real-world example, and providing a comprehensive understanding of their implications.

Concept/Theory: Categorization

Categorization is a cognitive process that involves the classification of objects, people, or experiences into distinct mental categories based on shared characteristics. This mental shortcut simplifies the complexity of the world around us and enables efficient information processing. Categorization is crucial for making quick judgments, but it can also lead to biased perceptions and stereotypes when applied to social groups.

Real-World Example

In daily life, an individual may categorize people based on their appearance, such as race, gender, or age. For instance, someone might make assumptions about a person’s personality or behavior solely based on their ethnicity. This automatic categorization can inadvertently result in the reinforcement of racial stereotypes and prejudiced attitudes.

Concept/Theory: Prejudice

Prejudice is an attitude or belief formed about an individual or group based on preconceived notions, stereotypes, or irrational feelings of superiority or inferiority. It involves negative or positive evaluations of others solely based on their group membership, leading to biased treatment.

Real-World Example

In a social setting, prejudice can be observed when an individual avoids interaction with someone from a different racial background due to unfounded fears or stereotypes. For instance, if a person holds prejudiced beliefs about a specific racial group being more prone to criminal behavior, they might avoid engaging in social activities with members of that group.

Concept/Theory: Discrimination

Discrimination refers to the unfair or differential treatment of individuals or groups based on their perceived characteristics, such as race, gender, religion, or nationality. Discrimination can occur in various forms, including institutional practices, verbal abuse, or physical violence.

Real-World Example

In a workplace scenario, discrimination may manifest when an employer denies opportunities for promotion or equal pay to employees solely based on their race or gender. This discriminatory behavior perpetuates inequality and reinforces social disparities.

Concept/Theory: Racism

Racism is a deeply ingrained ideology that perpetuates the belief in the inherent superiority of one racial group over others. It encompasses attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that promote racial prejudice and discrimination, resulting in the systemic disadvantage of marginalized racial groups.

Real-World Example

An example of racism can be seen in racially segregated neighborhoods where certain racial groups are excluded from accessing resources and opportunities available to other privileged groups. This perpetuates a cycle of poverty and limited access to quality education, healthcare, and employment opportunities.

Concept/Theory: White Skin Privilege

White skin privilege is an invisible, unearned set of advantages and benefits conferred to individuals solely because of their white skin color, leading to societal advantages in various aspects of life. This privilege operates at both conscious and unconscious levels, resulting in differential treatment and opportunities.

Real-World Example

In educational settings, white skin privilege may manifest when students of color are disproportionately disciplined or receive harsher punishments compared to their white peers for similar infractions. This phenomenon highlights the existence of implicit biases and systemic racism within institutions.

Summary of the Video: A Class Divided

The video, A Class Divided, documents Jane Elliott’s experiment where she divides her class into two groups based on eye color – blue-eyed and brown-eyed students. The experiment was designed to simulate discrimination and demonstrate how individuals internalize stereotypes and prejudices. By subjecting one group to discriminatory treatment and favoring the other, Elliott effectively showcases the destructive impact of prejudice and discrimination.

Application of Concepts/Theories

The video vividly demonstrates how the concepts of categorization, prejudice, and discrimination influence individuals’ behaviors and attitudes. The blue-eyed students, treated as inferior, started to display lower self-esteem, reduced academic performance, and internalized the prejudiced beliefs imposed upon them. On the other hand, the brown-eyed students, favored and considered superior, showed increased confidence and higher academic achievements. This experiment emphasizes how categorization and prejudice can perpetuate systemic discrimination, even among young individuals.


A Class Divided effectively exemplifies the real-world implications of social psychological concepts such as categorization, prejudice, discrimination, racism, and white skin privilege. By applying these theories to daily life scenarios, the video underscores the urgent need to challenge and dismantle prejudiced attitudes and discriminatory practices in society. It serves as a poignant reminder of the long-lasting impact that biased beliefs and behaviors can have on individuals and communities, urging us to actively work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable world.

APA Style Reference List:

Elliott, J. (1985). A Class Divided. FRONTLINE.
Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Addison-Wesley.
Dovidio, J. F., & Gaertner, S. L. (2010). Intergroup bias. In S. T. Fiske, D. T. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 1084-1121). John Wiley & Sons.
Jones, J. M., Dovidio, J. F., & Vietze, D. L. (2014). The psychology of diversity: Beyond

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