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PSYCH 2C03 Lecture Notes - Kurt Lewin, Naturalistic Fallacy, Social Neuroscience

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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
- situations matter.
- E.g. after tsunami, people donated generously. After 911, attention turned to
- 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
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