PSYC1030 Social Psych notes

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University of Queensland
Prof Blake Mc Kimmie

PSYC1030: Social Psychology Psychology: A scientific study of the principles that help us understand the thoughts and behaviours of people Psychological Research Scientific Method 1. Formulate a testable hypothesis 2. Design a study 3. Conduct study & collect data 4. Analyse and evaluate data 5. Report the findings Conducting an experiment 1. Framing a hypothesis: stating a relationship between two variables - Continuous variable i.e. shyness, intelligence - Categorical variable i.e. gender, species 2. Operationalising variables: turning an abstract concept into a concrete variable defined by a set of operations 3. Developing a standardized procedure: maximizing the likelihood that any differences observed can be attributed to the experimental manipulation, allowing the investigator to draw inferences about cause and effect - Control group: participants experience a neutral condition to give a clearer view of experimental manipulation - Demand characteristics: the ways participants’ perceptions of the researcher’s goals influence their responses - Blind studies: participants and/or researchers are kept unaware of important aspects of the research - Placebo effect: taking an inert substance which the participant believes to be effective 4. Selecting and assigning participants: placing participants randomly in each of the experimental conditions for maximum internal validity - Confounding variables: variables that can produce effects that are confused, or confounded, with the effects of the independent variable 5. Applying statistical techniques to the data: describing the findings and drawing inferences - Descriptive statistics: describing findings in a way that summarises their essential features - Inferential statistics: drawing inferences from the sample to the population as a whole 6. Drawing conclusions: evaluating whether or not the hypothesis is supported Objective measurement  Generalisability: refers to applicability to findings from sample to a larger population o Sampling bias occurs when sample does not represent population  Validity: measures ability to assess the variable it should o Internal validity: methods must convincingly test hypothesis i.e. representative sample, standardized design o External validity: findings can be generalized to outside laboratory  Reliability o Retest reliability: tendency of a test to yield similar results o Internal consistency: whether several ways of asking question yield similar results o Interrator reliability: whether two researchers give a participant similar scores  Multiple measures: employing multiple measures to achieve an accurate assessment Research design Method Uses/advantages Disadvantages Experimental research - Demonstrates causal - Generalisability limited relationships outside laboratory - Maximizes control - Complex phenomena over relevant variables cannot be tested Case study - Psychological - Difficult to replicate processes in individual and apply to population cases - Cannot establish - Allows study of causation complex phenomena Naturalistic observation - Reveals natural - Observer may alter phenomena participants’ behaviour - - allows study of trends - Cannot establish not easily reproduced causation Survey research - Reveals attitudes and - Self-report bias may self-reported obscure truth behaviours for a large - May not reflect an sample equal emphasis on different groups Correlational research* - Useful for studying - Can demonstrate variables that the relationship but not research cannot causality manipulate * Positive correlation (towards +1.0) = the higher individuals score on one variable, the higher they are likely to measure on the other Negative correlation (towards -1.0) = the higher individuals score on one variable, the lower they are likely to measure on the other Fallacies in arguments  Straw man: authors deliberately attacking an opposing argument in order to strengthen their own argument  Appeals to popularity: the fallacy that a popular and widespread argument is true  Appeals to authority: the fallacy that an argument must be true because of the authority of the person making it  Arguments directed to the person: authors try to strengthen their own position by attacking the authors of alternative arguments Persuasion & Compliance Compliance: Someone who does not have the authority to make you obey Persuasion techniques  Low-balling: make a reasonable request but then reveal a hidden cost  Foot-in-the-door: first make a small request; then a larger, related one  Door-in-the-face: first make ridiculously large request; then a smaller, more reasonable one Power of commitment (Low-balling & Foot-in-the-door) Once a choice has been made people feel pressure to act consistently with that commitment (even as this becomes increasingly demanding)  Tendency to add new reasons to justify the decision; newly discovered reasons become enough to support the commitment Optimal conditions for compliance: - Commitment in writing - Commitment in public - Commitment freely induced rather than under pressure I.e. used to exploit American POWs during Korean War Contrast effect (Door-in-the-face) Humans better at making relative judgments than absolute judgments – when preceded by large request, subsequent ones seem more reasonable Watergate: Republican insiders agreed to break into and bug office for senior Democrat official; perpetrator first proposed elaborate scheme, which he then replaced with seemingly more reasonable requests Power of reciprocation One of the most powerful social norms: if somebody does something nice then you should do something nice back - People feel compelled to repay initial act of generosity even when repayment is costly to them  Often exploited by people who want to elicit donations - Similarly, when somebody makes a concession to us we feel obliged to make a concession ourselves  Demonstrated in international relations – potential to defuse wars or high level conflicts Regan (1971): confederate bought some participants a Coke - Those who received this bought twice as many raffle tickets at the end of the session Communicator factors Source: speakers tend to be more persuasive when they appear credible, attractive, powerful and similar to the recipient of the message Hypothesise that more credible sources have more effect on attitude change than non-credible sources But if we understand the message, who said it doesn’t really matter as over time we become convinced The sleeper effect Discounting: initially giving message from non-credible source less credence Disassociation: uncoupling of message content and source over time Attitude inoculation: involves building up receiver’s ‘resistance’ to a persuasive appeal by presenting weak arguments or forewarning against it Attractiveness More attractive likeable people are more persuasive Debono & Telesca (1990): slide of woman attractive or made to look unattractive with strong and weak message - Attractive woman seen as more persuasive but only for the strong message Fear Common tool used in advertising  Depends on whether you provide information about how to effectively respond Janis & Feshbach (1953): varied extent of fear causing information about denial decay - Participants given high fear message were less likely to follow the recommendations in the message Obedience Obedience: commands us to change our behavior and we do Milgram (1963): asked participants to give electric shocks to another person as a learning experiment - each time the ‘learner’ got an answer wrong the ‘teacher’ was required to give a more intense shock - People likely to obey authority figures, even if it opposes their moral conscience Tendency to obey  High status of the authority figure  Absence of a clear-cut point for disobeying  Belief that the authority figure will take responsibility for actions  Barriers to empathy for victim Role of empathy Obedience is reduced the greater the potential for empathy Full obedience decreased when: - The learner could be heard crying out (60%) - The learner was in the room (40%) - The teacher had to place the learner’s hand on the electrode (30%) Group decision-making ‘Groupthink’ Groups high in status and cohesion tend to ignore important information when making decisions Triggered by:  Directive leadership style o Other members conform to one individual  Intense group cohesion  Similarity of ideology  Pressure for unanimity o Individual opinions censored  Group insulation from critics o Not exposed to full range of information  Insecure member self-esteem  Sense of crisis Group polarisation A more general phenomenon in which overall group decision tends to shift towards a more extreme view - Demonstrated in 1961; prior to this it was thought groups would make more conservative decisions Persuasive argument (Burnstein & Vinokur, 1975): more likely to hear arguments consistent with the initial tendency of the group - Post-discussion attitudes tend to shift towards this side Social comparison (Sanders & Baron, 1977): group members try to be ‘above average’ in terms of adherence to group norm - Attempt to prove they are ‘good’ group members - Previously underestimated average position to group, therefore shift to a more extreme position to conform Both theories apply in different contexts Self-Categorization: Group wants to distinguish themselves from the ‘out group’ - Group discussion increases salience of group and minimizes similarity to other groups Conformity studies Asch (1955) - People gave the same incorrect answer as the confederates on 37% of the trials - Did so to avoid social censure Aggression Explanations for aggression  Biological explanations o Amygdala particularly important in regulating aggression o Alcohol reduces ability to monitor consequences of action, increasing likelihood of aggression o Genetic link to criminal behavior i.e. violent temper, assault, propensity for misconduct and antisocial behavior are heritable  Observational learning explanations (modeling) o People behave aggressively after witnessing others behaving aggressively o Strong correlation between amount of violent TV children watch and their aggression levels  Social cognitive explanations o People develop aggressive tendencies because of maladaptive thinking patterns and dysfunctional belief structures about the world i.e. perceiving neutral comments as hostile Josephson (1987): children played more aggressively after watching a violent TV program than when they watched a non-violent program (particularly when given a cue to remind them of the violent TV) Werther Effect: high-profile suicide spawns sharp increase in the rate of suicide and ‘accidental’ deaths; similarly murder-suicides result in spike in multiple-passenger car fatalities Crowd behavior Accounts of crowd behavior emphasize the notion of de-individuation - People are essentially aggressive and impulsive - We inhibit aggression to conform to ‘civilized’ societal norms - In crowds we are anonymous therefore our sense of self disappears and we revert to impulsive instincts Freud: ID vs. Superego (1923) Struggle between:  ID: basic instincts; operating purely on pleasure  Superego: conforming to social constructs and expectations Power of the situation Recent studies show individuals are more likely to assume whatever role is implied by the situation, with no relationship to aggression Zimbardo (1971): College students sorted and deindividuated into ‘prisoners’ and ‘guards’ in a fake jail system - Those socialized into guards became increasingly cruel and abusive; those in role of prisoner became compliant and powerless - Behavior of guards was so abusive the experiment was ceased after 6 days Ostracism Ostracism has been shown to cause:  Lower mood  Lower self-esteem  Reduced sense of control over lives  Heightened awareness of death  Reduced sense of belonging Same effects seen through cyberostracism and even when participants know somebody has been instructed to ostracize them. Ostracism has been linked to aggression Baumeister (2001): participants told other group members did not like them - In response they displayed increased aggression to strangers i.e. giving louder bursts of white noise Altruism Altruism: concern about the welfare of other people, rather than by the possibility of personal reward Often motivated to behave kindly for self-centered reasons: - We want to avoid personal pain of seeing someone suffer - We want to share vicariously the joy that someone else feels when their live improves Factors affecting altruism  Modeling another individual’s altruism  Extent to which one feels compassion  More likely to be altruistic when not in a rush  More common in rural areas and small towns  Men more altruistic towards strangers; women more altruistic toward friends and family Bystander Effect Bystander effect: the likelihood that an individual will intervene in an emergency goes down as the number of bystanders increases Explanations:  Diffusion of responsibility  Pluralistic ignorance  If nobody else seems alarmed, why should we be? Improving the odds:  Reduce ambiguity/uncertainty  Increase perceived personal responsibility i.e. target an individual  Others’ initial reactions Situational determinants:  Personality o People with higher empathy feel more responsible for helping o People high in self-efficacy more readily identify ways to help o High self-monitors will help when it improves their outward image  Gender o Men more likely to intervene in dangerous situations o Women more likely to intervene when little danger is involved  Group membership Prejudice & Stereotyping Defining prejudice Cognitive: beliefs about the attitude object (i.e. stereotypes) Affective: strong feelings about the group (usually negative) Behavioural: intentions to behave in negative ways toward the group Sexism Men are perceived as being competent and independent; women are characterized as being warm and expressive Hostile sexism: directed towards women who stray from traditional paths i.e. career women, feminists i.e. ‘women exaggerate problems they have at work’, ‘once a woman gets a man to commit, she tries to put him on a tight leash’ Benevolent sexism: placing women on a pedestal but reinforcing their subordination i.e. ‘women ought to be rescued before men’, ‘men should be willing to sacrifice their own well
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