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Lecture 2

Week 22 Online Lecture Summary

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PSYC 100

Week 22 Online Notes: Social Psychology 1. The Self: • Social Psychology— the scientific study of how individuals’ thoughts, feelings and behaviors are influenced by the social context • Self-concept— an individual’s perception of self, including knowledge, feelings and ideas about oneself. It is used as a basis for how we describe ourselves • It is the sum totals of beliefs that people have about themselves. • Self-schemas— beliefs hold about themselves that guide how they process self- relevant information and how they categorize and store information about themselves • A persons self-concept is compromised of many different components or self schemas • Schematicity— the importance of particular self-schemas to a person’s self- concept • Aschematic— not having a schema for a particular characterization or situation • When self schema is central to a person’s self-concept that person is said to be schematic with respect to their attribute • When a self-schema is not very important to a person, that person is said to be aschematic on that attribute • Schematicity influences how we behave in any given situation and how we remember past events— people reconstruct their memories for past events in a schema-consistent manner • How we view ourselves affects how we view others— we perceive and judge other people on terms of schema-relevant dimensions • Self-awareness— the ability to recognize oneself as a distinct entity • Important factor in developing a self-concept • It is an unreliable— can be affected by bodily actions or the language we use to think • Introspection— looking inward to one’s own thoughts and feelings • Affective forecasting— predicting how one would feel about a future emotional event • Demonstrates a person’s lack of self-knowledge • When people respond to questions about their future feelings they tend to believe that they would be much more devastated/ elated than they actually are at that future time • When predicting the emotional outcome of a negative or positive event people generally overestimate the strength and duration of their emotional reactions • Self perception theory— when internal cues are difficult to interpret, people sometimes determine their attitudes and feelings by observing their own behavior • Daryl Bem proposed that in contract to introspection people learn about themselves by observing their own behavior and making inferences regarding their internal state from these actions • The process is most likely to occur when one’s internal state is weak or difficult to interpret • Affecting forecasting and self-perception are difficult because the development of one’s self-concept also involves social factors— the self is inherently a social construct • Looking-glass self— the notion that other people serve as mirrors in which we see ourselves • The self-concept is also shaped by cultural factors • Psychology often distinguishes between individualistic and collectivist cultures • The differences between individual and collective societies affects many experiences • Social Comparison Theory—a the theory that people evaluate their own abilities and opinions by comparing themselves to others • Leon Festinger explained that the way we tend to evaluate our own performance and abilities is based on our observations of the people around us • Different cultural orientations can influence how we perceive, evaluate and present ourselves in relations to others—not categorical concepts • Personality and individual differences influence the extent to which someone’s actions are affected by a social situation— the nature of the situation can play a large role on determining its influence • people are often completely unaware of when they are being influences by external forces • Humans evolved as a social species and we each have a strong sense of self • Self esteem is an affective or emotionally related component of the self • It reflects our feelings of approval and acceptance of ourselves— whether we possess positive or negative self-evaluations • Self concept is a cognitive evaluation— how we think about ourselves • Self esteem is an emotional evaluation—how we feel about ourselves • Self esteem is generally a stable trait from childhood onward but life experiences can alter our state of mind— successes and failures • Can result in temporary or permanent shifts in self-esteem • People can feel positively about certain aspects of their lives or self-schemas and negatively about other aspects • There are 2 social psychological theories that explain why humans have self esteem: 1. Sociometer Theory—state that self-esteem evolved as a way to measure interpersonal relationships • Widely accepted • Leary and Baumeister argue that people are inherently social animals and use self-esteem as a means to gauge the degree to which they are liked, accepted, disliked and rejected by others • Self-esteem reflects how we think others view us • Low self-esteem alerts us to the fact we need to change out behavior to be accepted • 4 factors demonstrated by Sociometer theory: 1. There is a strong correlation between self-esteem and experiencing acceptance/rejection from others 2. Things that increase your self-esteem would also improve other’s opinions of you 3. Self-esteem increases after praise and decreases after social rejection 4. Public feedback affects a person’s level of self-esteem but private feedback does not • Theory is evolutionary in that others’ acceptance of and willingness to cooperate with us was essential in the ancestral environment 2. Terror Management Theory— states that all human behavior is motivated by the fear of our own mortality • Controversial • Jeff Greenberg argued that people are biologically programmed for self-preservation but at the same time are well aware of their morality • the inevitability of death is terrifying and people are motivated to pursue positive self-evaluations because higher self-esteem provides a wall against potential fear and anxiety • more salient mortality in their lives the more they struggles to improve their self esteem • effects are noticeable in people with lower levels of self- esteem • people who do not believe in the after-life are more likely to increase their self-esteem when reminded about mortality then people who do believe • people with positive self-images tend to be happy, productive and successful • self handicapping— engaging in behaviors designed to sabotage one’s own performance in order to provide a subsequent excuse for failure • basking in reflected glory (BIRGing)— associating with others who are successful to increase one’s self-esteem • downward social comparisons— defensive tendencies to compare oneself with others who are worse off than oneself • Self serving cognitions— general beliefs about the self that serve to enhance self-esteem • They are generals beliefs about the self that serve to enhance self-esteem • 3 different cognitions: 1. Better-than-average effect—most people rate themselves on most dimensions as better than the average person— a statistical impossibility 2. Unrealistic optimism— most people are unrealistically optimistic about their future outlook • People tend to create theories that link their personal attributes to desirable outcomes 3. Self-serving attributions— self-enhancing belief characterized but the tendency to take personal credit for successes and provide external excuses for failure • Self-discrepancy theory— our self esteem and emotional states are determined by the match of mismatch between how e see ourselves and how we want to see ourselves • Explanation for why we feel the way we do about ourselves • The “actual self” refers to people’s beliefs regarding their actual attributes • The “ought self” refers to peoples beliefs regarding wheat they and important others think they should or ought to be— nice or generous • The “ideal self” refers to peoples beliefs regarding what they and important others would like them to be— athletic and great singer • When actual/ought discrepancy occurs there is an existence of negative outcomes and people can experience feelings of agitation • If the discrepancy is large and chronic people may even develop an anxiety disorder • When actual-ideal discrepancy exists there is an absence of positive outcomes and people can experience feelings of dejection • If there is a large and chronic discrepancy then individuals may become depressed 2. Perceptions of Others: • Attributions— Explanations for the causes of one’s own and others’ behaviors • Fritz Heider proposed that explanations can be grouped into two categories: 1. Personal attributions— internal 2. Situational attributions—external • Harold Kelley developed Kelley’s Covariation Theory to describe the principles that underlie how we make attributions about behavior • Covariation principle— an attribution theory in which people make causal inferences to explain why they and other people behave in a certain way • for something to be a cause of someone’s behavior it must be present when the behavior occurs and absent when it does not • concept is similar to contingency— the causal link between two events • Kelley believed that ordinary people use the covariation principle to determine the cause of someone’s behavior • Three different kinds of covariation information used in making attributions: 1. Consistency— Is the person’s behavior consistent over time? • If yes then consistency is high 2. Consensus— How are other people reacting to the same stimulus? • If most people behave the same way the consensus is high 3. Distinctiveness— does this person react the same or differently to other stimuli or other situations? • If the person reacts differently distinctiveness is high • People use this information when attributing others’ behaviors to internal or external causes • If we can’t use the covariation information we use heuristic approach— information-processing rules of thumb— to make decisions more quickly • Fundamental attribution error— the tendency to overestimate the impact of personal factors and underestimate the impact of situational factors when attributing the causes of another’s behavior • Often occurs because individuals are influences by the social role held by others • Each social role that we fill comes with a set of expectations about how we ought to behave and these actions do not necessarily reflect out personal attributes • Different types of errors include: o Knowledge-across-situations hypothesis— people usually judge the behavior of those whom they know well to be more flexible and more dependent on the situation than the behavior of those they know less well o Visual-orientation hypothesis— we attribute behavior to personality differently for others than we do ourselves because we see the environment only through our own eyes, but we focus on other people and ignore the environment • Fundamental attribution error remains low in collectivist cultures • It is stronger and more common as people get older in individualistic cultures • Information formation— the process by which we combine information about a person to arrive at an overall evaluation of a set of beliefs about his or her attributes. Our impressions are influenced by several biases: o person positivity bias: the tendency to evaluate individuals more favorably than groups o trait negativity bias: the tendency to be more influenced by negative information than positive information— negative information is more salient o primacy effect: the tendency for information that is presented earlier to be more influential than information presented later • Western individuals tend to assign traits to people based on their behavior but we do not possess such a simple view of everyone we meet • Not entirely logical when forming impressions of others and are typically influenced by several biases— person positivity bias, trait negativity bias, and the primacy effect • Susan Fiske and Steven Neuberg designed the continuum model of impression formation to describe the range of ways in which people form impressions of other people while acknowledging that these ways share some similarities • We have the ability to process information more thoroughly if an individual does not fit into a typical social category • We are motivated to be accurate in out judgments— engage in a elaborate process of impression formation • 7 possible stages of impression formation 1. Initial Categorization: • Occurs immediately upon perceiving a person • Make automatic judgments based on physical characteristics and obvious social categories • Initial category us a surface interpretation of the information at hand— based on
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