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social psyc class notes

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McGill University
PSYC 215
Donald Taylor

Social PsychologyNovember 29 2010AggressionBehaviour that delivers a noxious stimulus to another personAn act that intended to injure the targetNow that your unique snowfalkiness has been restored we need to move on quickly There are 2 topics Ill discuss briefly If you look at any social psych textbook youll find 2 chapters usually back to back Aggression followed by Altruism What theyre trying to do is say social psychology addresses and deals w the good and the bad Aggression is bad Altruism is good The problem is if you ever read the opening two chapters of an altruism chapter designed to talk about how and why humans and wonderful and kind to others they usually start out w the Kitty Genevies story Kitty was a young woman who lived in downtown NYC One day on the way back to her apartment she gets accosted by a guy w a knife that does bad things to her About 100 people on their balconies watched this and did nothing He attacks her runs away comes back and continues People watched and did nothing This spawned a lot of thinking and research about when and will people ever decide to help another person It was why did nobody do anything even phone 911 So social psych tells you there is good altruism But people are not altruistic and people are a bag of dirt It shouldnt surprise you to learn that a topic like aggression is not going to be my favorite chapter Because I think theyll miss the boat I believe we have to understand aggression in the context of the social influence processes weve been discussing for the past month We havent been applying them enoughMy quick rundown on aggression Lets look at the definitions Delivering a noxious stimulus like hitting over the head w a bat Part II of the definition is an act that intended to injure the target First of all you have to see that the entire def is routed in attribution theory not behaviour Aggression is not about behaviour but intentions If I walk down the hall and a student bumps into me and hurts me thats not the issue Its why Was it a crowded hallway so it happened by mistake it was not aggression they were not intending to harm me Or it was aggression they intended to harm me So its an attribution question what caused the person to hurt me was it internal or external not about behavior We have to make causal judgments about their behaviour we cant just look at the behaviour Cause if it was an accident it was aggression Intended to injure the target It doesnt say physically injure the target Even the noxious stimulus can be nonphysical Something you say to a person can be noxious In fact one can psychologically injure another Im raising this cause all too often we tend to think of physical aggression as rather primitive something you and I would never do But of course we use our intellect to injure others We hurt them by what we say We can injure them but isolate them Ridicule ostracize Sometimes thats way more painful Some current research is showing that just as you and I when we talk about psychological pain allude to physical things He broke my heart We are equating the kind of interpersonal pain with physical pain Turns out they actually are related The kind of pain you feel when you are socially rejected has the same neurophysiological implications as when you suffer physically The fact you and I would use psychological terms when were thinking about psychological pain turns out were a lot closer than we thought You and I tend to use more intellectual and psychological pain to hurt others and look down on those who cause physical pain Are you kidding Given that psychological
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