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2D06: Sociology of the Human Group
Scientific Foundations of Social Psychology
- Social psychology: the scientific study of the relationship between individuals
Allport: Social psychology is the attempt to understand and explain how
the thought, feeling and behaviour of individuals are influenced by the actual
imaged or implied presence of others.
- Psychological Social Psychology: studies of conformity and obedience.
Humans are powerfully impacted by their environment psychologists more
concerned with process rather than environment. The individual is the main unit
- Sociological Social Psychology: emphasize the impact of societal forces in
addition to immediate social context on individual’s lives. Study immediate social
context that people live in as well as a society as a whole. Emphasis is on
understanding social, cultural and historical context of human experience.
- Auguste Compte scientific method to social world.
- 1879: Wundt set up worlds 1st experimental psyc laboratory
- 1897: 1st soc psyc experiment Triplett
- 1908: term “social psychology”
- 1934: Mead: “Mind Self and Society”
- 1950: theme
- Theories: general explanation of the relationships among a set of variables; to
explain what they observe
- General statement about the relationships
- Statement about the cause of those relationships
- General prediction based on these reasons
- Concepts: basic building blocks of theory
- Variables: concepts that vary over space and time
- Independent: causes the effect
- Dependent: change in response to changes in the independent variable
- Evaluating Research:
- Internal Validity: the fit between theoretical concept and the researchers
measure of the concept. Independent variable did cause the effects on the
Dependent variable if the research does measure what it is suppose to it has
high internal validity
- External Validity: the extent to which research findings can be
generalized to other settings and populations.
- Survey Research: three methods 1. Self-admin survey 2. Personal Interview
Strengths: most widely used. Time effective and relatively cheap.
Weakness: rely on self-reports, may not respond truthfully (poor
Strengths ability to control independent variables and to isolate the
experimental variables is ideal to cause and effect. High in internal validity. Many
require relatively low amounts of time and money.
- Weakness: problem of reactivity – tendency of subjects to change their
behaviour in response to the researcher or to the fact that they know they are
being studied. Lack mundane realism – the extent to which the laboratory
situation is similar to some situations of interest in the outside world.
- Field: studies in which investigators manipulate variables in natural non-
- Strengths high external validity. Greater mundane realism when
conducted in natural environments.
- Weakness difficultly manipulating independent variables. Internal
validity is low.
- Naturalistic Observation:
- direct: observing in a public setting
- Participant observation: a qualitative research method in which
researchers play active roles in the situations that they are studying.
- Ethnography: a detailed study of the life and activities of a group of
people by a researcher who may live with that group over a period of years
immersed in group or sub-culture
- Strengths: authentic research, first hand experience, high in internal
- Weakness: bias, a long time and very expensive, not appropriate for
studying large groups, rely on skills, insights and feelings of the researcher
therefore cannot be generalized. Low in external validity.
- Socialization: the process by which individuals learn the values, norms, beliefs
and roles of their society
- Feral children: children raised by animals isolated from society – Victor, the
“wild Boy of Avetron”
- Isolated children: Anna and Isabelle
- Ability to become human is only a potential society makes us humans
through our socialization. Biology and environment interact to form to form
functional members of society
Jean Piaget: interested in showing how young people gradually progress
through distinct stages. At each stage children’s activities governed by the world
1. Sensor motor Stage: children understand only through 5 senses and
- Knowledge is through action no mental symbols
- Object permanence: doesn’t realise that objects exists if you
cannot see them. They start they realize objects continue continues
to exist when they are out of sight
2. Preoperational Stage: children begin to use language and form mental
- Principles of conversation: an amount of an object stays the same
even when its appearance changes not aware physical appearance may
change while it still keeps physical qualities. Inability to solve problems logically
- Egocentrism: egocentric speech is non-communicative speech
inability to separate perspective from those of others. Verbalize thoughts without
trying to communicate.
- Children speech is not fully communicative until about 7years
3. Concrete Operational Stage: children can begin logical reasoning
- reserversability: change of object can return to original form
draw conclusions about action without having to try it out; they understand
without seeing or doing however thinking is still centered on tangible objects and
- Hierarchical classification: sort and classify objects into classes
- Contrast to egocentric: ability to assume view points of others.
Language becomes social and communicative.
4. Formal Operational Stage: able to engage in highly abstract thought
and with imagination.
- Imaginary audience: distorted image of adolescence. Belief that
you are the focus of everyone’s concern. Become extremely self-conscious
therefore go to great lengths to avoid embarrassment.
- Personal fable: develop inflated opinion of own importance.
- Capacity for abstract thought; understands metaphors “penny for
Strengths: children active knowledge seekers who under go complex
cognitive changes children at different stages have different skills.
Weakness: no attention to culture. Lengths of stages are disputed.
Vygotsky’s Sociocultural theory
- emphasizes the role of culture and social environment in cog.
development. Emphasizes interactions with the social world vs. the physical
world learn about physical world through verbal description guided and
interpreted by other people
- Cognitive growth must be understood in context of culture in which
- Through interactions cultivate skills and abilities that cultural group’s
- Guidance is replaced by internalized self regulation
- Emphasis on language: disagree with egocentric speech; they are
interested in the thoughts of others. Childs mind grows interactions with other
minds. Children use speech to talk to themselves attempting to talk to
themselves through problems.
- Zone of proximal development: difference between what a child can do
independently and with the help from “teachers”
- Scaffolding: adjustment that teachers make in assisting students who
are attempting to solve a problem—aid in implementing a task
- Role of make believe: children learn to act in accord with internal ideas.
Rule based nature of make believe strengthen child’s capacity to think before
they act in play children do what they most feel like doing. They act against
immediate impulse because most follow social rules to execute play scene. As
children enact rules they come to better understand social norms and
expectations and strive to behave in ways to uphold them.
- Strengths: more cross-cultural concerns
- Weakness: scaffolding: not only verbal dialogue is important. Depending
on the task verbal dialogue is not always important or helpful e.g. weaving