systematic judgments , sociology homework help

Case Study: Bridget

Bridget is 22 years old and a drug addict. Her parents were divorced in her early teens. She changed high schools three times. Her father is an alcoholic and her mother is clinically depressed. She has been in jail nine times and she has been in and out of hospitals for the past five years with various illnesses. Her boyfriend physically abuses her. For the past three years, Bridget has been involved in illegal activities to get money for drugs or to get drugs. Right now she is a convicted felon, and she could receive a sentence of six months in the penitentiary or six months on probation. She wrote bad checks and was caught with drug paraphernalia. Bridget has just found out that she is pregnant. She does not know who the father is. Bridget has a brother and two sisters. She grew up in a suburban neighborhood. In her early teens, her dad admitted that he was an alcoholic. He left home to “get some help” but never came back. He divorced Bridget’s mother two years later. The family had to move out of the neighborhood into a smaller house. They had to move again to a house that charged less rent. Changing schools with each move, Bridget began to use drugs to help her belong to an “in” crowd.

·  What are your first quick impressions of Bridget based upon her appearance, verbal behavior, actions, nonverbal messages, and information about the situation?

·  Why do you think you made those first quick impressions?

Bridget moved out of her mother’s house during her senior year and moved in with her father. Bridget’s father was dating every night and he knew only a little about what Bridget was doing. She was using drugs daily, including marijuana, cocaine, and crystal meth—and she was now living with her boyfriend. Bridget worked at a local grocery store. Her boyfriend was selling and using drugs. Bridget attended school sporadically. She graduated and passed the local and state tests. After graduation, she continued living with her boyfriend. Her work record was irregular and she kept changing jobs. At the age of 20, Bridget and her boyfriend traveled to Mexico to buy drugs. Their plan was to buy the drugs and then sell them in the United States. Bridget made the trip to Mexico successfully. But on the return trip, she was stopped by the police just after she crossed the border. She was jailed for possession. She called her family, but they decided that they would leave her in jail for one night. Bridget was released on bail. Her boyfriend was already out of jail on bail. They found their car and unloaded the drugs that the police did not find. She was arrested soon after that, but she had a false I.D. The police ran the I.D., discovered who she was, and then arrested her again.

·  What are your more systematic judgments of Bridget?

·  How have these changed from your first impressions? Why do you think that these impressions changed?

Bridget stayed out of jail for three months. She then was arrested for prostitution. This time she spent almost four months in jail. She was placed on probation and lived in a halfway house. During that time she received a chip in Alcoholics Anonymous for100 days of sobriety. Bridget decided that she would move back home, so she began to live with her mother. She got a job, paid rent to her mother, and then moved into her apartment. She took her boyfriend back. Before long, she began using drugs again. Her boyfriend continued his physical abuse. She lost her job for irregular attendance and spent her money on drugs. That summer Bridget was hospitalized with pneumonia. Her physical health had deteriorated. She weighed only 90 pounds, and she had lost most of her hair and some of her teeth. While she was in the hospital many of her family came to visit. They all wanted to help her. Bridget refused. All that she could think about was going back to her boyfriend and the drugs.

·  Do you think that Bridget is responsible for her situation (internal attribution) or is her environment responsible? Explain the rationale for your answer.

·  How does “fundamental attribution error” apply to your thoughts about Bridget?

Once Bridget was out of the hospital, she moved in with two friends. Her boyfriend joined her there. She continued to use drugs. She stole checks, food, and medicine. Bridget sold the drugs that she didn’t use. She was arrested again. In jail, she tried to commit suicide. The police took her to the hospital. She was placed on suicide watch. During a routine physical exam, Bridget found out that she was pregnant. She waited three months for a court date. She was placed in rehabilitation for six months and on probation for three years. It is clear that if she violates the law again, she will go to prison. Currently Bridget is four months pregnant and has no idea who the father of her child is. She is in rehabilitation. Her mother comes to visit her. Right now she is clean.

·  To which social categories does Bridget belong? To which social categories do you belong?

·  In what ways is Bridget in your “in” group and your “out” group? How does this influence your impressions of her and how would this influence your initial assessment of her?

·  Did you or could you stereotype Bridget after reading the first two paragraphs? Describe the stereotype. After knowing a more complete story, does the stereotype remain?

How will knowledge about forming impressions of others influence your work as a case manager? 

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