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Korean Attributions

Decent Essays
In Hee Sun Park’s article ‘Social Identity, Attribution, and Emotion: Comparisons of Americans, Korean Americans, and Koreans, he examines the feelings surrounding the Virginia Tech shooting, and his findings suggest that attributions are emotionally charged and rooted in self-preservation more so than accuracy.

In April 2007, the deadliest school shooting in American history occurred when Cho Seung-Hui opened fire on the campus of Virginia Tech. Having spent the majority of his life living in the United States but being born in Korea, there were a few different nationalities that Seung-Hui could be associated with, and Park et al. decided to investigate the attributions and emotions affiliated with this event, focusing on four distinct groups:
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Koreans were more likely to blame American society for the incident, and emphasise that the perpetrator had been living in the United States since he was young and had American citizenship. Americans were more likely to blame the incident on the shooter, to identify him as Korean, and to suggest that his foreign roots may have contributed to his desire to act out in this way. In times of crisis, people will categorise others in ways least like themselves, perhaps to reduce the possibility of people thinking that they might be capable of committing similar atrocities. Of course, everybody knows that not all Koreans, or not everybody exposed to American society will go on a shooting spree, but perhaps characterising a shooter in ways that increase the distance between him and the groups he might belong to could limit the threat that the perpetrator could be to someone else’s identity, or the identity of their…show more content…
At no point does Park’s article mention whether Seung-Hui considered himself to be Korean, Korean American, or American, likely because this detail would not affect the way that other members of these groups choose to describe him. If, for instance, Seung-Hui thought of himself as an American, is it fair or accurate for someone else to decide that he’s Korean? No, it isn’t, but that’s what happens, because we don’t like to think of horrible acts of violence like this being carried out by our people, and so we change the identity of those responsible so that they are not as connected to ourselves or our
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