Lessons Learned


Jennifer Goldman

Graduate fellow at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and a graduate student at the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

Q: It might be too early for this, but maybe early lessons on humiliation, lessons you learned?

A: Well, one lesson, methodologically, that I learned from running the first study is that we had tried to manipulate the social norms around the situations. We had one condition where we said, "You're in a company where basically you're privileged to lash out." We wanted people in that condition to say, "Yeah, I'd aggress, and the reason why is that the social norms of this company are setup so that that's okay." We had another condition where we thought the case was written in a way where it was clearly not okay to lash out, and we wanted those people to say that they would not aggress. What we found out is that the manipulations just didn't work. One reason why it could be is that we just wrote them in a weird way and they didn't really make sense to people, and I think that was pretty much part of what was going on. Another part is that people come with their own strong cultural and social understandings of what the norms around them tell them to do. Some interesting thoughts about what's responsible for the different ways that people respond are, there could be a gender thing going on where women have these certain expectations of what to do when you feel humiliated that might be less aggressive than men. If so, why? So I guess I don't have answers, but just more questions about how does this whole thing work. I actually find it fascinating to just think about what are the messages that people get sent about what to do when they feel humiliated, and how do those messages get sent?