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Social Psychology.docx

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Elizabeth Page- Gould

Social Psychology Sept 18, 2011 Chapter 1 What is Social Psychology? - we think of social influence as direct attempts at persuasion, whereby one person deliberately tries to change another person’s behaviour - direct attempts at persuasion also occur when our friends try to get us to do something we really don’t want to do - for psychologist it goes beyond behaviour – but influences our thoughts and emotions - even when we are not in the physical presence of someone we are still influenced by them - social psychology is therefore the scientific study in which people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people The Power of Social Interpretation - social psychology is distinct because it doesn’t look at social situations in an objective sense but by their interpretation of the social environment - ex. You can bring as much evidence into a trial but at the end o fthe day the final verdict lies in the hands of the jury who’s decision may be based on the events and perceptions that may not take objective relevance into matter - social psych is an experimentally based science that tests its assumptions rather then rely on wisdom, common sense or opinions of philosophers etc Some Alternative Ways of Understanding Social Influence - People are not always aware of the origin of their own responses Folk Wisdom - Journalist, critics and novelist have things to say about these situations – called FOLK WISDOM - There is a problem with this knowledge: they disagree with each other, and there is not way of determining who is correct - Ex. There is no shortage of folk wisdom about why in the Solar Temple, the cult members killed themselves and their children at the request of their leader – may have been drugged or hypnotized or may have been disturbed in the first place - People tend not to learn from previous incidents – more examples of this on page 8 - A cult can be very powerful in affecting the hearts and minds of normal people – the population is eager to find someone to blame  people blame the victims themselves for their stupidity or being mentally ill - One of the tasks of a social psych. Is to make educated guesses (hypothesis) about the specific situation under which one outcome or the other would occur - They perfom experiments to test these about the nature of the social world - One of the tasks is also to design experiments sophisticated enough to demonstrate the specific situation under which one or the other applies Social Psych Compared with Sociology - Social psych and sociology both look at the influence of social and societal factors on human behaviour - The difference however are: social psychology is a branch of psychology and as such, is rooted in an interest in individual human beings, with an emphasis on the psychological processes going on in their hearts and minds - For the social psychologist, the level of analysis is the individual in context of the social situation - Social Psychologist focuses on the specific psychological processes that trigger aggression in specific situations - Sociology is concerned with broad societal factors that influence events in a given society – like social class, structure and institutions - MAJOR DIFFERENCE: Sociology rather then focusing on the psychology of the individual, tends toward a more macro focus – that of society at large. - Sociologist are likely to be concerned with why a particular society produces different levels and types of aggression in its members - The goal of social psychology is to identify universal properties of human nature that make everyone susceptible to social influence, regardless of social class or culture Social Psychology Compared with Personality Psychology - When people behave in a interesting or unusual way, it is natural to try and pinpoint what aspects of their personality led them to respond as they did - When trying to find explanation for behaviours, personality psychologist focus on individual differences – the aspects of an individual’s personality that make him or her different from other individuals - Ex. The Solar Temple story – personality psychologist would believe that all those people were weak-willed or even psychotic - Social psychologists are convinced that explaining behaviour primarily in terms of personality factors ignores a critical part of the story: the powerful role played by social influence - It is conceivable that all these people are psychotic – that explanation is highly improbable  a deeper, richer more thorough explanation is to understand the power and influence that these leaders had on the cult, the nature of the impact of living in a closed society - (WAITRESS EXAMPLE PAGE 11) - When trying to account for a person’s behaviour, the majority of people will jump to the conclusion that the person behaviour was caused by their personality rather then the influence of the situation The Power of Social Influence - Big barrier when trying to convince people that their behaviour is influenced by social environment because we believe people’s behaviours depend on their personalities  this is known as the fundamental attribution error  the tendency to explain people’s behaviour’s in terms of personality traits, thereby underestimating the power of social influence Underestimating the Power of Social Influence - We experience a feeling of false security - By failing to appreciate fully the power of the situation, we tend to oversimplify complex situations – this decreases the understanding of the cause of human behaviour - SEE EXAMPLE PAGE 12-14 The Subjectivity of the Social Situation - Behaviourism – a school of psychology maintaining that to understand human behaviour one need only consider the reinforcing properties of the environment – how positive and negative events in the environment are associated with specific behaviours. - Watson and Skinner suggested that all behaviour could be understood by examining the rewards and punishments in the organism’s environment and that there was not need to study such subjective states as thinking and feeling - Behaviourist chose not to deal with issues such as cognition, thinking and feeling, because they considered these concepts to be vague and mentalistic and not sufficiently anchored to observable behaviour - But social behaviour cannot be fully understood by confining our observations to the physical properties of a situation  half to look at the situation from the viewpoint of the people in it and how they construe the world around them - Ex. You wouldn’t give a salesperson a description of pain in your kidney like you would if a close friend asked you how you were doing? - Gestalt psychology holds that we should study the subjective way in which an object appears in people’s minds rather than the way in which the objective physical attributes of the object combine - Ex. To understand how people perceive a painting you would look at the all the individual building blocks like the type of brush strokes, the number of primary colors etc. - Gestalt psychs believe that it is impossible to understand the way in which an object is perceived through studying its building blocks .. the whole is different from the sum of its parts - Kurt Lewin took the bold approach of applying Gestalt principles beyond the perception of objects to social perception – how people perceive other people and their motives, intentions, and behaviours – was the first to realize the important of taking perspective of the people in any social situation to see how they construe the social environment Where Construals Come From: Basic Human Motives - A focus on individual differences in people’s personality, while valuable, misses what is usually of far greater importance : the effects of the social situation on people - We as human beings are complex, at any given moment, myriad intersecting motives underlie our thoughts and behaviours – two of these motives are the need to be accurate and the need to feel good about ourselves - Leon Festinger was quick to realize that it is precisely when these two motives tug an individual in opposite directions that we can gain our most valuable insights into the workings of the human heart and mind READ EXAMPLE PAGE 17 The Self-Esteem Approach: The Need to Feel Good About Ourselves - We have a need to maintain a high self-esteem – that is to see themselves as good, competent, and decent Justifying Behaviour - Ex. A husband and wife get into a divorce and the husband blames it on the wife’s inability to be responsive or attentive to his needs .. this makes him feel better about himself - It is difficult to own up to major deficiencies in ourselves .. the consequence is that it decreases the probability that the individual will learn from experience and will run into the same problems again - It is often possible for normal people to put a different spin on existing facts, one that show’s us in the best light - People distort their interpretation of reality so that they feel better about themselves Suffering and Self- Justification - Jean Francois – liked his teammates even more after a unpleasant hazing ritual o Thinks only a moron would go through pain to be accepted by a bunch of jerks so he justifies his decision by seeing his team in the best possible light - What about sever hazing? People still would still choose to belong to the group. - They consider it a small price to pay for the sense of team solidarity that it creates - The more unpleasant the procedure underwent to get into a group, the more liked the group o Human beings are motivated to maintain a positive picture of themselves, by justifying their behaviour o Leads them to do things that at first glance might be surprising – may prefer things for whom they have suffered over people they associate with pleasure The Social Cognition Approach: The Need to be Accurate - Human beings are skilled at thinking, contemplating and deducing – one of the hallmarks of being human is the ability to reason Social Cognition - Social cognition is the way in which human beings think about the world - People try to view the world as accurately as possible – viewed as amateurs doing their best to try and understand and predict the social world - We almost never know all the facts we need to in order to make the most accurate judgements of a given situation - Ex. You are asked what is better for you Lucky Charms or 100% Natural from Quaker .. we all would answer Lucky Charms because its a kid cereal and has more sugar in .. we are basing our answer off of the cover of the product when in actuality Natural has more fat in it then Lucky Charms o Thus things aren’t always as they appear – coming up with an accurate picture of the social world in not always easy Expectations about the Social World - Our expectations can change the nature of the social world - READ teacher example page 21 about the SELF FULFILLING PROPHECY Other Motives: Ensuring Our Survival and Coping with Mortality - The need to maintain a positive view of ourselves and the need to view the world accurately are the most important of our social motives but not the only ones - Biological drives like hunger and thirst can be powerful motivators, especially under extreme circumstances - We can also be motivated by the fear or by the promise of love, favours or rewards - Human behaviour is also motivated by the need to survive – also we need to cope with the fact that we are mortal beings Ensuring Our Survival - Evolutionary psychology is a theoretical branch of psychology that attempts to explain social behaviour in terms of genetic factors that evolved oer time according to the principles of nature - Natural selection – the idea that characteristics that help an organism survive will be passed on to its offspring’s  this theory says that human behaviour is driven by biology alone and the environment has no effect - But biological influences are in fact responsive to its environment Terror Management Theory - Only human beings possess the awareness that they will one day die - According to the theory – this produces fear and people will go to great lengths to reduce these negative feelings - We respond by boosting our self-esteems, and clinging to the values of our cultures - Ex. People that are reminded of their mortality will actually donate more to charaties then people who are not - Causes people to hold political and personal beliefs with a greater zeal - When people’s worldviews are threatened, thoughts of death are more accessible ex. Students highly invested in Canadian culture are exposed to views that threaten or attack their values  people who’s views are threatened report more death-related thoughts - Our cultural views shield us from thoughts of death Social Psychology and Social Problems - Reasons why social psychologist are interested in social influence: they are curious about how we become influenced, how we influence others etc - Also to contribute to the solution of social problems o Reduction of hostility and prejudice and the increase of altruism and generosity o Practising safe sex, conserving natural resources and water, helping people adjust to life change like entry into college or death of loved ones - Ex. Government wants to frighten people and stop them from smoking so they put warning labels on the packs of cigarettes o This is not affective in all situations however – like most people don’t want to think about death or a painful illness when getting ready to have sex o When exposed to these messages they express denial “ none of my friends have AIDS” o The convince themselves that the person they are with don’t have an STD and then continue on with having unprotected sex Social Psychology September 19/2011 Chapter 2 Social Psychology – An Empirical Science - Many social problems can be studied scientifically - The results we find when studying human behaviour can be predictable - Hindsight bias – exaggerate how much they could have predicted an outcome after knowing that it occurred - The trick is to predict what will happen in an experiment BEFORE you know how it turned out to be Formulating Hypotheses and Theories - A theory is an organized set of principles that can be used to explain observed phenomena - Social psychologist engage in a continual process of theory refinement and based on the results revies the theory and formulate new hypotheses - A hypothesis is a statement or idea about the relationship between two or more variables - Ex. Story of Kitty Genovese page 31 – the more people that witness the emergency, the les likely it is that any given individual will intervene  may have assumed that someone else had called the police - this referred to as the diffusion of responsibility The Observational Method - This is a technique whereby a researcher observes people and systematically records measurement of their behaviour - Depend on how actively the observer participates – the observer may not participate in anyway and blend in with the scenery o Ex. Using hidden video camera’s and small microphones - This helps to eliminate the problem of people changing their behaviour when they know they are being watched ex. Not bullying when observers are around - It is important for the researcher to clearly define the behaviour of interest – ex. If their is an intent to do harm by the bullier or if the victim shows distress - Operational definition refers to the precise specification of how variables are measured and manipulated o Define a power imbalance as a discrepancy in terms of height and weight between the children involved – bigger child is in a position of power relative to the smaller child o BUT if their looking at bullying in a corporate boardroom, they might define power imbalance as status in the corporation - Ethnography – the method by which researchers attempt to understand a group
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