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Lecture 1

Psychology 2720A/B Lecture 1: Chapter 1 - Introducing Social Psychology

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Western University
Psychology 2720A/B
Mike Morrison

Chapter 1: Introducing Social Psychology Social Psychology  The scientific study of the way in which our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people What is Social Psychology?  The scientific study of how our thoughts, feelings and actions are influenced by other people o Scientific: follows scientific method, not just common sense o A science of people, rather than other species o Others don’t need to be physically present to influence us o Outward social behaviour and inner mental life are both of interest o Examines the influence of the social context What do Social Psychologists Study?  How people are influenced by their interpretation of the social environment  Concepts and processes  General principles  Applications Social Psychology vs. Other Areas of Psychology  Social psychology: the study of the way in which an individuals thoughts, feelings and behaviours are influenced by the real or imagined presence of others vs.  Personality psychology: focuses on how traits help to explain human behaviour  Developmental psychology: examines human growth and change over the lifespan  Cognitive psychology: examines mental processes such as thinking, learning and memory  Clinical psychology: the study of psychological or mental problems affecting people’s well-being  Sociology: focuses on how social and cultural forces influence human behaviour  Anthropology: the study of past and present cultures  Political science: the study of methods of government  Social psychology concerned more with how people are influenced by their interpretation or construal of their social environment Construal  The way in which people perceive, comprehend, and interpret their social world  Construals are subjective interpretations of social phenomena History of Social Psychology  Roots in philosophy o Tripartite experience of thought, feeling, action o Humans are inherently social beings o Social contract: implicit rules of social conduct o The nature of personality and identity  Psychology evolved into a distinct empirical science in mid 19 century  1898: first social psychological publication – norman triplett: social facilitation  1908: first social psychology textbook – McDougal  1920-1930: influence of behaviourism in psychology Modern social Psychology  World War II provided a boost to the discipline  Gestalt theory: people’s overall subjective interpretations of objects are more important than the objects physical features  Kurt Lewin: father of modern social psychology  Became a more vibrant distinct area of psychology in the 1950’s Humans as Social Species  Need to belong theory: humans have a biologically based need for interpersonal connections  Social comparison theory: we seek to evaluate or abilities and beliefs by comparing them with those of others  Social contagion: looking to others for knowledge or deciding how to act  Social facilitation: the presence of others can enhance our performance in certain situations The Need to Belong  We crave strong, stable social relationships  Being alone is painful Social comparisons  Question -> social comparison -> outcome of social comparison -> conclusion Social Facilitation  When the mere presence of others enhances our performance o Bike racing o Cockroaches running mazes
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