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Jennifer Ostovich

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What is social psychology - scientific study of how people think about, influence, relate to one another - social thinking (perceive ourselves and others), influence (culture, persuasion), relations (helping, prejudice, attraction) Major themes - “behavior is a function of the person and the situation” (Kurt Lewin) Social thinking 1. We construct our social reality - we explain people’s behavior to suit our daily needs (attribute consistent behaviour to their personality) - how we view ourselves influences our emotions/actions 2. Our social intuitions are often powerful but sometimes perilous - intuitions shape fears, impressions, relationships - trust ourselves overly, misread minds, mispredict feelings Social influences 3. Social influences shape behaviour - power of a social situation leads us to act in ways that depart form our espoused attitudes - situations matter. - E.g. after tsunami, people donated generously. After 911, attention turned to terrorism - Influences from culture- how you define beauty, social justice as equity or equality 4. Personal attitudes and dispositions also shape behaviour - inner attitudes - e.g. attitude towards the poor influence our willingness to support them, political attitude influences voting behaviour Social relations 5. Social behaviour is biologically rooted - examine neurobiology that underlies social behavior - social neuroscience: an integration of biological and social perspectives that explores the neural and psychological bases of social and emotional behaviours - biological + social factors 6. Relating to others is a basic need - relationships with others forms self esteem Social psychology applies to everyday life - nor to answer questions related to destiny, meaning of life..etc. but it is about life, beliefs, attitudes, and relationships - social psychology is more general, less on the individuals Social psychology and human values - values enter with choice of topic - values differ across time: • social psychology reflects social history (interest in aggression with increase riots, study of prejudice flourished when facism raged in Europe) - values differ across cultures: • Europe contributed to “social identity” vs North American psychologists focused on individuals - values as object of social-psychological analysis - science is objective + subjective (view world through lens of our preconceptions) • culture: the enduring behaviours, ideas, attitudes, traditions, products and institutions shared by a large group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next • social representations: socially shared beliefs. Widely held ideas and values, including our assumptions and cultural ideologies. Our social representations help us make sense of our world. • Unrealized assumptions that go unchallenged Psychological concepts contain hidden values - psychologists values play part in theories/judgements they support - example of value judgements: 1. defining a good life- idea of the best way to live our lives (Maslow and self actualized people: fulfilling potential after basic needs) 2. forming concepts- different labels for similar things (self esteem vs defensiveness)- shows a value judgement because one seems + and the other - 3. naturalistic fallacy- the error of defining what is good in terms of what is observable (what’s typical is normal, what’s normal is good) - different researches with varying biases to undertake scientific analysis allows us to check and retain our biases Social psychology and common sense - hindsight bias: the tendency to exaggerate, after learning an outcome, one’s ability to have foreseen how something turn out. Also known as the i-knew-it-all-along phenomenon - everything can seem like common sense after you know the result - easily deceive ourselves into thinking that we know and knew more than we do and did - science helps bring out reality Research methods Forming & testing hypothesis - theory: an integrated set of principles that explain and predict observed events fact: keys fall to the ground; theory: gravity - theories: summarize & explain facts; imply testable predictions- hypotheses - hypotheses: a testable proposition that describes a relationship that may exist between events allows us to test the theory that it’s based off gives direction to research practical - operationalization: translate variables that are described at the theoretical level into the specific variables that are to be observed - e.g. hypotheses: the presence of others in a crowd leads to extreme violence • crowd 20 strangers in a small room • does the operational variable of crowd represent what we mean theoretically by a crowd? Needs to creatively capture the essence of the theory being tested • needs to be a reliable measure (consistent) - testing between two theories- which one is better when both can be a possible explanation? - A good theory: 1. effectively summarizes a wide range of obs
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