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PS102 Ch. 8 Notes.docx

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Carolyn Ensley

Claudia Vanderholst Chapter 8: Behaviour in Social and Cultural Context Roles and Rules  Norms: rules that regulate social life, including explicit laws and implicit conventions  Law: you cant beat up other people except in self defense  Social understanding: self defense includes defending one’s honour in some cases  Implicit understanding: don’t sing in public  People are more likely to break norms if they see other people doing so  broke rules in dirty street with graffiti  People are more likely to follow rules if they see other people doing it  towel recycling study; more people reused when they saw a sign that said more than 50% of people reuse towels  Role: a given social position that is governed by a set of norms for proper behaviour  Social norms are shaped by culture  Culture: a program of shared rules that govern the behaviour of people in a community or society  a set of values, beliefs, and customs shared by most members of that community (ex. Cultural difference in conversational distance)  People tend to conform  we need to obey rules, we couldn’t functions as a group without them  People tend to use their cultural norms where ever they are  What makes people conform and obey?  Stanley Milgram wanted to know and created a famous set of experiments to study it The Obedience Study  Milgram designed a series of studies to test whether people would obey an authority figure when directly ordered to violate their ethical standards  Learner: confederate  Teacher: participant  Experimenter: authority figure  Task involved teacher giving ‘electric shock’ to learner when incorrectly answered word pair questions  Milgram found that most people were far more obedient than anyone expected  Every single participant administered some shock to the learner when told to do so  2/3 of participants shocked to the learner to the maximum level (labeled 450V or XXX)  Recent research has replicated these results even when easier for participants to disobey Factors Leading to Disobedience  When the experimenter left the room  When the victim was right there in the room Page 1 of 7 Claudia Vanderholst  When two experimenters issued conflicting demands  When the person ordering them to continue was an ordinary man  When the participant worked with peers who refused to go further Evaluating the Obedience Study  Milgram concluded  Obedience is a function of the situation  Participants see themselves as instruments to effect the wished of person in authority  Critics questions both the ethics and validity of Milgram’s study  Raises ethical questions regarding the use of deception in study  Ethical concern over emotional pain experienced by participants  Influence of the situation over personality traits questioned by some  Linked to actions in Nazi Germany and prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib in Baghdad The Prison Study  Zimbardo and Haney designed classic Stanford Prison Study  Male university students randomly assigned to be prisoners or guards  Prisoner role – associated with distress, helplessness, apathy, rebellion, and panic  Guard role – some were nice. Others “tough but fair”. But a third of guards became punitive and harsh  Powerful demonstration of how the social situation affects behaviour Why People Obey  Allocating responsibility to the authority  Routinizing the task  Wanting to be polite  Entrapment – gradual process in which individuals escalate their commitment to a course of action to justify their investment of time, money, or effort (used by cults) Entrapment  First few steps are easy  Gradually get to a point where you have done something you didn’t want to do  Continue to justify doing what you didn’t want to do  Listen to torture, watch torture, do torture  May not have ‘wanted’ to do it Social Influences on Beliefs  Social cognition – an area in social psychology concerned with social influences on thought, memory, perception, and beliefs  Current approaches draw on evolutionary theory, neuroimaging, surveys and experiments Page 2 of 7 Claudia Vanderholst Attribution Theory  Argues that people are motivated to explain their own and other people’s behavior by attributing causes of that behaviour to a situation or a disposition  Situational attribution – something in the situation or environment caused the behavior  Dispositional attribution – something in the person (e.g., traits, or motive) caused the behavior  Fundamental attribution error – the tendency, in explaining other people’s behaviour, to overestimate personality factors and underestimate the influence of the situation  More prevalent in western versus eastern cultures Biases in Explaining our Behaviour  Self serving bias: the tendency, in explaining ones own behaviour, to take credit for good actions and rationalize mistakes  Group serving bias: the tendency to explain favorably the behaviours of members of groups to which we belong (few people think they were part of the “bad guys” in a war)  Just world hypothesis: notion that people need to believe the world is fair and justice is served; bad people are punished and good people are rewarded  when assumption called into question, people may engage in attributions involving blaming the victim The Impact of Attributions  When attribution you make to a situation has a big impact  Happy couples attribute negative behavior to the situation  Unhappy couples attribute negative behavior to the person  The attribute that is made determines how well the people get along Attitudes  Beliefs about people, groups, ideas or activities  Explicit attitude – an attitude that we are aware of, that shapes our conscious decisions and actions, and that can be measured on questionnaires  Implicit attitude – an attitude that we are unaware of, that may influence our behaviour in ways we do not recognize, and that is measured in various indirect ways Attitude Change  Attitudes may change with new experiences and information, but also because of need for consistency  Cognitive dissonance: state of tension that occurs when a person simultaneously holds two cognitions that are inconsistent; or when beliefs are incongruent with behavior  Resolve by changing attitude or behaviour  Celebrity does something you find morally wrong Page 3 of 7 Claudia Vanderholst Shifting Opinions  Attitudes and beliefs vulnerable to social influence  Familiarity effect: when people feel more positively toward a person, item, or product the more familiar they are with it  Validity effect: when people believe a statement is true or valid simply because it has been repeated many times  Happens in commercials, courts cases Do Genes Influence Attitudes?  Attitudes are combination of learning, experience and genetics  Religion affiliation (the religion chosen) is not heritable; religiosity (the depth of religious feeling) has a genetic component  Political affiliation is not heritable; political conservatism is highly heritable  What does it mean?  The variability in openness to new experience and conscientiousness is related to variability in genes  This is linked to religion
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