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Lecture 3

Social Psych Lecture 3.docx

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Sam Alvaro

Social Psych 2 Jan 21, 2014 Theories A theory is a set of interrelated propositions that organizes and explains observed phenomena. A theory goes beyond mere observable facts by postulating causal relations among variables. If a theory is valid, it enables its user to explain the phenomena under consideration and make predictions about events not yet observed. The Structure of Scientific Theory Conceptual Plane  Operational Plane Why is theory important? Explanations can be described s the stories we tell each other in attempts to produce some order in our lives. Explanations outline paths that lead to particular outcomes. They allow us to feel that we know why something happened, and whether, or not under certain conditions, it is likely to occur again How do we evaluate a theory? Scope: The range of phenomena that a theory can explain Accuracy: Does the theory match empirical reality Parsimony: The simplest explanation is the most likely explanation – the one with the fewest leaps of logic is usually the correct one Can the theory be falsified? Middle-range Theories Frameworks that identify conditions that produce specific social behavior Formulated in terms of cause and effect: --Explanation of processes by which persuasion prdouces attitude change. --Specifying the conditions under which contact between members of different racial groups change or eliminate stereotypes ~Giving someone a common enemy forces similar groups to get along and merge together Theoretical Perspectives General explanations for a wide array of social behaviors in a variety of situations. Provide a frame of reference for i nterpreting and comparing a wide range of social situations and behaviors. Social psychology includes the following theoretical perspectives Role Theory Much of observable social behavior is people carrying out their roles, similar to actors performing a stage According to role theory, to change a person’s behavior, it is necessary to change or redefine his or her role. Propositions in Role Theory 1. People spend much of their lives participating in groups & organizations 2. Within these groups, people occupy distinct positions. 3. Each of these positions entails a role, which is a set of functions performed by the person for the group. 4. Groups formalize these expectations as norms, which are rules specifying how a person should behave. 5. Individuals usually carry out their roles and perform according to the norms 6. Group members check each individual’s performance to determine whether it conforms to the group’s norms. (tipping and socialized to feel guilty to tip) Limitations of role theory Role theory has difficulty explaining deviant behavior, which is any behavior that violates the norms defining a given role. -Deviant behavior violates the demands of roles Role theory does not and cannot explain how role expectations originate or how they change. Reinforcement theory Central proposition: People will be more likely to perform a specific behavior if it is followed by something pleasurable or by the removal of something aversive. People will refrain from a particular behavior if it is followed by the occurrence of something aversive or the removal of something pleasant. Bribery/punishments Conditioning In conditioning, a contingency is established between emitting a response and receiving reinforcement. If a person emits a particular response and this response is then reinforced, the connection between the response and reinforcement is strengthened Social Learning Theory Individuals acquire new responses through conditioning and imitation The learner can acquire new responses by observing the behavior of another person The learner neither performs a response nor receives reinforcement Whether the learner will perform behaviors learned through observation may depend on whether they will receive reinforcement. Social Exchange Theory Uses reinforcement to explain stability and change in relations between individuals Assumes individuals have freedom of choice and often face situations in which they must choose among alternative actions Any action provides some rewards and entails some costs Individuals will maximize rewards and minimize costs so they choose accordingly. When men don’t see the value of domestic work/think it’s still the job of the female to do the domestic work. Equity A state of equity exists in a relationship when participants feel the rewards they receive are proportional to the costs they bear. If a participant feels that the allocation of rewards and costs is inequitable, the relationship is potentially unstable. Social exchange theory predicts that people will try to modify an inequitable relationship. Limitations of Reinforcement Theory Reinforcement theory portrays individuals as reacting to environmental stimuli rather than as initiating behavior based on imaginative or
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