I chose to talk about the political situation in Egypt, and in particular the phenomenon that recently arose in the Egyptian society after the revolution of 25th of January: suspecting each other. Most of the Egyptians right after the revolution started to feel that he/she is more loyal to Egypt and loves Egypt more than the others, which created a sense of congestion because Egyptians by nature don’t like to feel that there is someone who is overbidding them. Also, after the 25th of January, a lot of conspiracy theories against Egypt were provoked. People started to see weird faces for figures whom they used to admire earlier and never thought of doubting their patriotism. These figures later faced a lot of defamation campaigns against them, claiming that they are part of the fifth column who is serving external interests. Egyptians started to feel as if they don’t know whom they should believe anymore and lost trust in most of the society’s figures and even in each other.
Social psychology is a very good medium to use to study this phenomenon and find possible solutions for it because it is the scientific study of the way in which people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people. It studies how and why social environment shapes the thoughts, attitudes, feelings, and behaviors of the individual. It offers us the Covariation model, in which we study what causes social behavior by highlighting the two attributions: internal and external. Of course social psychology also offers us how culture differences affect social perception. There is a genetic component that is involved in shaping our attitudes, yet social experiences clearly play the major role. Therefore social psychology could help us understand how Egyptians adopted these phenomena and attitudes, and what developed them.
The attitudes that I am going to address are:
• personal belief that one is more patriotic than other Egyptians
• Suspicion of the rest of population and their positions
• people are only with the strong party
• Egypt is going downward
• Objection and protesting are good ways to spot the light on oneself
These attitudes resulted in these behaviors:
• stop listening to other people
• regarding oneself as superior to others
• overbidding others
• distrust people
• not cooperating with others
• not working hard
• protesting and objecting without strong purpose
I think for attitude change, we should target the middle class or the Bourgeoisie because this class is the common ground in the society, whom you can reach easily and communicate with them easily since their qualifications are much suitable: their education, social standard, living standard, social experiences, involvement in society, and role in revolution. One of the reasons why the revolution was provoked is to protect the bourgeoisie class and reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. Also, all of the developed countries have a really strong bourgeois class; it is a feature of progress and development. So in order to step forward, we have to work on and enhance our bourgeoisie class. But the bourgeoisie class is very broad and includes different occupations making it very hard to analyze or focus on the whole class. Therefore I chose the intellectuals; this group plays a great role in society and in social perception. People’s schema and heuristics are partly formed by what they are being offered from the intellectuals and media.
In this case I think we should start by the attitudes first because we are trying to fix a problem that Egypt faces and is deepened in its roots. We need a long term solution because we are changing the thoughts and attitudes, which usually take much time than behaviors. If we succeeded in changing the attitude, the behavior itself would be changed too. And I would start by the problem of trust and suspicion of the rest of population and their positions. If this problem was solved and we made Egyptians trust each other as community, this would facilitate the mission to fix the other attitudes.
The Egyptian Revolution of 2011 was a diverse movement of demonstrations, marches, plaza occupations, riots, non-violent civil resistance, acts of civil disobedience and labor strikes which took place following a popular uprising that began on 25 January 2011. Millions of protesters from a variety of socio-economic and religious backgrounds demanded the overthrow of the regime of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. It was provoked by police brutality, state of emergency laws, electoral fraud, political censorship, widespread corruption, high unemployment, food price inflation, low minimum wages, demographic structural factors, and inspiration from concurrent regional protests. Therefore the self-perception theory played an important role in the causes of revolution when Egyptians were observing their own behaviors and the situation, in which they occur. Social comparison theory also affected the Egyptians when they shaped their self-concepts by people around them, and learned their abilities and attitudes by comparing themselves to other people, especially in Tunisia. Therefore, Egyptians were victimized and fed up by these causes. They collaborated with each other and stood in front of the regime. This was shown, for example, when the ordinary Egyptian people acted in defiance of the Egyptian antiquities, arrested the looters, and handed them to the police. Egyptians by the effect of culture have an interdependent view of the self. However, this collaboration and union were broken by personal interests.
The Muslim Brotherhood dominated the leadership of this young democracy of the Arab Spring. Muslim Brotherhood has broken many promises about the role it would play in representative government. Its flip-flops and power grabs in forming a new regime have only added to a worry among democracy advocates that Mr. Morsi would define his authority from Islam, or sharia law, rather than from constitutional rights and secular pluralism. Many Egyptian figures (liberal) used ingratiation to maintain their political survival. They used flattery and praise to make themselves likeable to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). Even if they have contradicting ideologies, they would abandon it to get closer to the MB. This resulted in a whopping deficit of public trust. MB were using self-handicapping, and created obstacle and excuses for themselves so that if they do poorly on a task, they can avoid blaming themselves. Egypt’s protests reveal deficit of trust in Muslim Brotherhood and in the Egyptian political figures. As in personal relations, trust in government requires a great deal of openness and equality, which were not met by the previous two regimes.
Egyptians also faced many drawbacks from their international allies. For example, they thought at different times that USA, the most powerful superpower, was supporting Egypt and its development. However At one point, Obama backed former President Hosni Mubarak. Then he abandoned him. Next, under the democratic banner of “letting the Egyptian people decide,” he stood on the sidelines as the Muslim Brotherhood took power and began to run the country into the ground. Again unsure of what to do, he took what he thought was the line of least resistance—supporting the Brotherhood and its leader, President Mohamed Morsi. Only that didn’t work either. Obama showed his deep concern over the Egyptian military’s decision to oust Morsi. Obama’s policy was again repudiated by the Egyptians who lost their trust in Obama’s policies. The only “friends” America seems to have left are Morsi’s supporters in the anti-Western Brotherhood, who despise American values, oppose U.S. policies, and now blame Obama for backing the army “coup” against Morsi’s. USA’s natural allies the secular democrats, no longer trust USA because of Obama’s tendency to support whoever ends up in power. Obama’s policies reflect the two basic human motives: self-esteem approach and social cognition approach. He is always trying to make his decisions accurate and correct and maintain high self-esteem. Impression management is very crucial is very crucial to Obama. However, the abandoning of his policies to manage his image made the Egyptians distrust Obama’s policies, which reflect narcissism: extreme high self-regard (USA) combined with a lack of empathy towards other countries (I mean this concept on states level).
Since our attitudes are based mostly on experiences, these experiences of doubt and drawbacks led Egyptians to form attitudes accordingly. The affective components in Egyptians’ attitudes and behaviors are fear from being marginalized, liking objection, admiring political strength, and pessimism about Egypt’s Future. The cognitive components are the falling back of many political figures, revealing of many plans against Egypt made by people who were supposed to be loyal to Egypt, and revealing of many lies and broken promises. The behavioral components are not listening to other people, seeing oneself as superior over others, overbidding others, distrusting people, not cooperating with others, not working hard, and protesting and objecting without strong purpose. Egyptians develop most of these attitudes at two levels. Some might develop them unconsciously as implicit attitudes while some might develop them consciously as explicit attitudes. Some Egyptians maintain attitudes and behaviors through classical conditioning, in which they repeatedly pair a stimulus that elicits emotional response with a neutral stimulus until it takes some properties of the first stimulus. For example, watching political figures lecturing elicits doubt about their reliability. Repeatedly pairing these political figures (stimulus) with their lecturing about Egypt’s development (neutral stimulus) results in eliciting doubt when anyone talks about Egypt’s development. Another type of conditioning is operant conditioning, in which we freely choose behaviors to perform more or less frequent depending on whether they are followed by a punishment or reward. For example, Egyptians in the recent times were used to the phenomenon that those who oppose the regime and its policies rapidly get famous, gain popularity, and have the lights spotting on them, which are good rewards, so Egyptians start opposing the regime more frequently.
After we analyzed the ABC of the attitudes in this context, I think using the emotions to change the attitude would work the best because the attitude of distrust and suspecting others’ patriotism is based on emotion and social identity. Fear-arousing communication can cause lasting change if a moderate amount of fear is aroused, and if Egyptians believe that they and Egypt’s future would be reassured if they changed their attitude, returned to trust each other and stopped overbidding. Emotions could be used as heuristics to gauge Egyptians’ attitudes. Changing the attitude by changing behavior or cognitive dissonance would not be so helpful because in this context, there is high external justification, which is considered a drawback for cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance requires low external justification where people find internal justification for their behavior, bringing their attitudes in line with their behavior. Persuasive communication depends on aspects of the communicator, aspects of the message, and aspects of the audience. In persuasive communication, the effectiveness depends on the strength of the argument such as in central route to persuasion or the surface characteristics such as in the periphery route to persuasion. Confidence in people’s thoughts and attitudes affects how much they will be influenced by a persuasive communication. Therefore the probability of having an effective result from persuasive messages is not guaranteed; especially after researchers have studied a number of ways to avoid being influenced by persuasive messages, such as: attitude inoculation, alertness to product placement, resisting peer pressure, and Reactance theory.