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Lecture 1

SOCPSY 1Z03 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Cognitive Dissonance, Begging The Question, Social Order

Social Psychology
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Theoretical Perspectives
1. Role theory: social behaviour is a result of people playing roles. We all
have roles, as part of our status in life ex: mother, teacher etc. You have
obligations/expectations as part of your role. If you change the role or the role
expectations, you change the behaviour. People spend their lives participating in
groups/organizations, in which they occupy distinct roles. Roles are interconnected
or "relational" ex: student-teacher and you fulfill expectations ex: teacher is loud
and teaches, students are quiet and respectful. How we think about the world is
shaped by our roles, ex: driver being annoyed by pedestrian, then being annoyed
at drivers when they are a pedestrian. Limitations: doesn't explain deviant
behaviour, and the defiance of norms. Deviant behaviour violates the demands of
roles. Role theory does not explain how role expectations originate or how they
change (ex. Role of women now vs. Then)
2. Reinforcement theory: Being more likely to perform a behaviour if it is
followed by something pleasurable or the removal of a negative enforcer (and visa
versa for bad behavior). Conditioning; the connection between response and
reinforcement is strengthened. Pavlov; stimulus--> response, and discrimination.
Limitations: cant explain altruism and martyrdom.
3. Cognitive theory: cognitive processes (memory, judgment, problem
solving etc.) are important determinants of social behaviour. We use cognitive
structures such as schemas to explain complex info. About other people, groups,
situations etc. Ex: if you imagine a lawyer, what you are imagining is your schema
of a lawyer. Cognitive consistency: if you receive ideas that are incongruent or
inconsistent you experience internal conflict (cognitive dissonance). Limitations:
Simplifies how people process information. Cognitive phenomena are not directly
observable; they must be inferred from what people say or do.
1. Symbolic Interaction theory: Social order and human nature are
products of symbolic communication among people. Who we are doesn't emerge
until we have social interaction, there is no self without interaction. How you
dress/act is influenced by what you think other people will think, how others
perceive you. Individuals care most about the opinions of 'significant others'. You
act differently in different social contexts ex: family vs friends. Limitations:
Overemphasizes self-conscious thought, de-emphasized unconscious thought and
emotion. Doesn't address conflict. Downplays the impact of social structures (ex.
Race, gender).
2. Evolution theory: evolution to explain social behaviour. The
predisposition to certain behaviours is encoded in our genetic material and is
passed on through reproduction. Characteristics that enable to individual to survive
and pass on its genetic code will eventually occur more frequently. Critiques:
Circular argument-- why did the behaviour begin in the first place?... Ignores the
role of cultural and social factors-- choice of mates has changed historically
The 4 concerns: group on member, member on group, group on group, member
on member
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