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Why is there hate speech content out there?

Social and Emotional Learning

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Overview

All people build up a set of beliefs, stereotypes and prejudices based on early experiences, and from teaching and learning both in formal education and from familial role modelling. Paul Bloom explores the positive and negative implications of prejudice in his TED talk. In this talk, Paul raises the value of empathy in tackling prejudices and the importance of the individual approach. In the SEL component of this theme we will focus on building empathy when faced with images of people we may have built stereotypes about.


This section also introduces the notion of heuristics and specifically, representativeness heuristics which draws on the seminal work of Tversky and Kahneman. Representativeness heuristics is based on the idea that when we evaluate something we use use a “shortcut” to reduce the brain power required to make that decision. Humans compare the example we are presented with to a prototype we have stored in our memory. While this enables us to make quick decisions, these “prototypes” we have stored tend to form the basis of stereotypes. This can be a positive thing, enabling us to successfully navigate through a social situation conforming to the behaviours expected of us. But these “prototypes” can also be negative, allowing us to form prejudices and biases towards individuals or groups with the same characteristics.

Prompt Questions

These questions are provided as examples to initiate and guide discussions around the topic in this focus area.

  • What do we mean by prejudice?
  • What do we mean by stereotype?
  • What images spring to mind when you hear the words prejudice or stereotype?
  • Does prejudice exist in our society?
  • Why do prejudice and stereotype exist in society?
  • Do you think everyone in the world has prejudices?
  • Are people from different groups treated differently in society? Women/men, migrant/nationals, Black/White, etc…
  • Are people from these groups treated the same in the school/workplace?
  • Are there any national campaigns tackling discrimination or prejudice?

Warm Up Activity

The SELMA project short definition of hate speech is:

“Any online content targeting someone based on protected characteristics with the intent or likely effect of inciting, spreading or promoting hatred or other forms of discrimination.”

#People like you?

Play the #PeopleLikeYou video to the group. This video encourages the viewer to “step into the shoes” of a migrant living in the UK. By replacing the word migrant in newspaper headlines with the words “People like you”, the video encourages the viewer to respond to the headlines as if they were targeted at them.

  • Do you feel differently about the headlines when directed at you?
  • What emotional response are the headlines provoking in readers?
  • Why do you think the media have portrayed migrants in this way?
  • Is it morally acceptable for known brands to advertise in media that targets protected characteristics in this way?
  • Is it morally acceptable to pressure known brands to withdraw advertising from these media outlets?

The Stop Funding Hate campaign in the UK has successfully influenced many brands to withdraw funding in UK tabloid newspapers.

Find and share some example headlines from recent press articles. Invite the learners to identify the protected characteristic that is highlighted (or attacked) in the headline.

  • Is there an emerging trend of hate towards any protected characteristics?
  • How do the learners feel about this?

Main Activity

The SELMA project short definition of hate speech is:

“Any online content targeting someone based on protected characteristics with the intent or likely effect of inciting, spreading or promoting hatred or other forms of discrimination.”

Guess the protagonist

Using the provided set of images, the learners will be encouraged to consider their stereotypes towards those depicted in the images. This draws on the concept of representativeness heuristics developed in the seminal work of Tversky and Kahneman. You may wish to share details of this concept with the learners.

Share the first image with the learners. Ask:

  • What can you tell me about this person? (allow the learners time to think and describe the individual. You may need to prompt them with some basic characteristics - gender, age, religion, etc.)
  • Would you trust this person to look after your phone in a coffee shop or youth club?
  • Why/why not?

Then share the next slide which includes a brief description of the individual.

  • How close were the learners to the truth?
  • What assumptions did the learners make about the individual?
  • What are their assumptions based on?
  • Who has influenced them in forming this opinion of the individual?

Repeat with as many images as you feel is necessary to help your learners understand how stereotypes and prejudices influence our view of others and the world.

Tasks

Make copies of the ‘Match the person’ worksheets available to learners in the group.

Ask them to complete an activity as a pair and then discuss their answers.

The importance of this activity is not so much the activity itself, but the discussion of why the learner made the selections.

  • What were the reasons for your decision?
  • What judgements did you make when coming to that decision?
  • Were stereotypes involved in any of the decisions you made?
  • To what extent did your experiences before today influence your choices?
  • Were some activities harder than others? Why?

Bring the learners back together into a group and provide an opportunity for them to discuss with themselves the activities and their decisions. Guide the learners as necessary, using some of the questions from above.

Where time allows, share the Match the Dog to the Owner video

In this video, three people try and match a series of dog with their owner. Listen carefully to the reasons why each person allocates the dog to the owner. Some of them are really unusual.

Again, where time allows, discuss the video and the stereotypes verbalised in making each choice.

Outcome Criteria

  • Recognise the stereotypes we all hold and how these influence our decisions.
  • Learners are able to begin to exercise control over the extent to which our beliefs, prejudices and stereotypes influence decisions and communication.

Resources

Recognise the stereotypes we all hold and how these influence our decisions. Exercise control over the extent to which our beliefs, prejudices and stereotypes influence decisions and communication.

Resource

Guess the protagonist

Recognising the stereotypes we all hold and how these influence our decisions.

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Match the person

Recognising the stereotypes we all hold and how these influence our decisions.

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Gæt en tilhænger

Recognising the stereotypes we all hold and how these influence our decisions.

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Match personen

Recognising the stereotypes we all hold and how these influence our decisions.

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Wer bin ich?

Recognising the stereotypes we all hold and how these influence our decisions.

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Personen zuordnen

Recognising the stereotypes we all hold and how these influence our decisions.

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Μαντέψτε τον πρωταγωνιστή

Recognising the stereotypes we all hold and how these influence our decisions.

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Αντιστοιχίστε το πρόσωπο

Recognising the stereotypes we all hold and how these influence our decisions.

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