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Psychology 2070A/B Lecture Notes - Selective Perception, Bruce Morton, Illusory Correlation

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Kelly Olson

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Chapter 1 Introducing Social Psychology
What is social psychology?
Our lives are SOCIAL they involve OTHER PEOPLE
Is the scientific study of how individuals’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are influenced by other people
4 key aspects:
Influenced by other people
o SOCIAL aspect of social psych is very important
o Other people can influence us without having to be physically present (preparing for a job
interview or a first date)
o As long as someone is being affected in any way by other people including their IMAGINED
presence relevant to social psych
Thoughts, feelings, and behaviours
o How other people affect an individual’s thoughts (cognitive), feelings (affect), and behaviours
o Why people act a certain way toward certain people helping, discrimination, conformity
Individuals’ perspective
o Look at the world through the actor’s eyes
o Whatever YOU believe to be the other person’s motive will determine how you behave
o More important to know the individuals’ SUBJECTIVE perception than the setting’s objective
o Social construals how individuals personally interpret (construe) or perceive social
Scientific study
o Scientific evidence is necessary before a proposal is taken seriously
o Collecting data to test predictions
How other people affect us
Other people affect how we interpret events
Researchers have conducted experiments where they constructed fake emergencies and observed
how people responded who did not know the situation was staged bystander intervention
One important reason that these individuals fail to intervene is that they RELY on other people to
interpret the event
Analysis of emergency situations is a classic social psych, providing a compelling example of how we
use other people to interpret our world
Other people affect how we feel about ourselves
Comparisons of self with other people
Other people can have dramatic effects on how we feel about ourselves
Social comparison process of comparing ourselves to other people to make judgements about the
Other people affect how we behave
The presence of other people can elicit a very different behaviour than would have occurred if one
was alone
Tendency of large groups to elicit aggressive behaviour if one person starts, the rest follow
because they feel as though they won’t get caught being immersed in a large group anonymity
Deindivduation: feeling that people are unaccountable for their actions when in a large group
o Study of mobs done by Mullen results showed that as lynchers became more numerous
relative to the victims, the viciousness of the lynchings increased larger mobs were

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associated with more aggressive lynchings people in larger mobs felt anonymous which led
to a breakdown of inhibitory self-control that was normally practised
Social psych is not just a common sense intuitions are not always right and we must conduct research to
find out which ones are valid
Hindsight is not always golden tendency to think that a known outcome was obvious is called the hindsight
bias that can lead you astray when judging the importance and value of research findings
Why study social psych?
Being an informed citizen if we really want to develop an informed and reasoned approach to dealing with
social problems, we need to understand why people behave the way they do and the effectiveness of
different solutions
Applying social psych knowledge to everyday life
Understanding yourself
Connections to other areas of psych
Personality psychology: traits that help explain human behaviour individual differences that affect social
behaviour (self-esteem)
Developmental psychology: age related changed in human abilities and behaviour social development
how relationship skills emerge
Cognitive psychology: how the human mind works social cognition how information about people is
processed and stored
Clinical/counseling: psychological or mental problems that affect one’s well-being loneliness, shyness and
other relationship problems; depression, anxiety
Sociology: how social and cultural forces influence human behaviour DIFF from social psych focuses on
groups rather than individuals; measure relevant concepts rather than manipulate experiments
Anthropology: the study of past and present cultures DIFF from social psych focus on cultures rather
than individuals; rely on existing materials rather than conducting experiments
Political science: the study of methods of governments DIFF from social psych exclusive focus on the
political domain; study existing systems rather than conducting experiments
Historical background of social psych
Only existed for 50-60 years
Social psych’s roots in philosophy – Plato and Aristotle who were famous philosophers made connections to
human emotions, thoughts, and behaviours
Social contract the idea that human societies have developed basic rules of social and moral
conduct, which members of the societies implicitly agree to follow
identity both social psych and philosophy have been interested in human existence and how
people see themselves
Social psych’s early history – 1st published social psych experiment in the American Journal of Psychology
how performance is affected by the presence of other people.
Norman Triplett curious about a pattern he noticed in bicycle racing times racing records show
faster times in multi-rider competitive races than individual races against the clock
Then performed an experiment where children were asked turn a crank on a fishing reel as quickly as
possible alone and with other children faster when they were competing with other children
social facilitation
Behaviourism an approach in psych that assumes that behaviour can be explained purely in terms
of stimulus-response connections established through experience and reinforcement

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Kurt Lewin father of modern social psych generally opposed to behaviourism and instead
o An approach in psych that assumes that people’s overall subjective interpretations of
objects are more important than the objects’ physical features, and that objects are
perceived in their totality, as a unit, rather than in terms of their individual features
Social psych came out of the Second World War (50s and 60s) as a field that used experimental techniques to study
social behaviour investigated issues such as conformity, obedience and authority, attitude change, inter-group
The many contexts of social psych
The culture context - must understand cultural differences and know that maybe a theory or experiment in
North America cannot be generalized to the whole world difficult to look at the world without a cultural
The health context
The law context our daily social behaviour is shaped and influenced by these rules and laws which is based
on powerful principles of social psych
High self-monitor one who is especially sensitive to external, situational cues in interpersonal settings and uses
these external cues to guide behaviour
Low self-monitor person who uses internal cues and personal attributes as a guide to behaviour
Ways to see social psych in action:
Learn about yourself
Be a research participant
Do your own research
Dig deeper
Social psych is all around you
Watch TV cultural differences, persuasion in commercials, influence of American TV networks on how
Canadians view the world
Read the newspaper and magazines persuasion techniques used by effective writers
Surf the web less restricted than other mass media, easier to find extreme examples of violence and racism
Observe others in their natural environments
Observe yourself
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