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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYCO241
Professor
Rui Zhang
Semester
Winter

Description
Social Psych 241 1/15/2013 9:55:00 AM CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION TO SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY  What is Social Psychology?  Social influence is at the heart of social psych – we are all influenced by other people  Social influence extends beyond attempts to change a person’s behaviour.. includes our thoughts, feelings, overt actions  Even when we are not in the physical presence of other people, we are still influenced by them  Social Psychology: scientific study of the way in which people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are influenced by the real/imagined presence of other people  Concerned with how people are influenced by their interpretation (construal) of their social environment  Naïve realism: conviction we all have that we perceive things ‘as they really are’.. assume that other reasonable people see things the way we do  Belief that the other side is biased and that our thoughts are objective  Social psych is experimentally based; empirical; systematic  Cannot simply ask people what influences them, b/c may not be aware of the origins of their own response.  Folk wisdom – common sense; journalists, social critics, novelists. Often disagree with each other, no easy way of determining which is correct.  b/c common sense frequently turns out being wrong or oversimplified, people tend to not learn from previous incidents.  Philosophy – throughout history, major source of insight; foundation of contemporary psych. Psychologists look at many of same questions as philosophers, but from a scientific perspective. Social psychologists make more educated guesses (hypothesis) and then perform experiments to test hypothesis about the nature of the social world  Sociology – both sociology and social psychology are concerned with the influence of social and societal factors on human behaviour. Social psych studies individuals, while sociology studies the broad society.  Goal of social psych is to identify universal properties of human nature that make everyone susceptible to social influence, regardless of social class/culture.  Personality psych – focuses attention on individual differences – aspects of peoples personality that make them different from others. Social psych believes that focusing just on explaining behaviour through personality factors ignores a critical part of the story: powerful role played by social influence.  When trying to account for a person’s behaviour in complex situations, majority will jump to conclusion that the behaviour was caused by the personality of the individual, rather than consider the influence of the situation.  The Power of Social Influence  Fundamental attribution error: tendency to overestimate the extent to which people’s behaviour stems from internal, dispositional factors and to underestimate the role of situational factors. – all of us tend to explain people’s behaviour in terms of their personalities  When we underestimate the power of social influence, we experience a feeling of false security ie: when thinking why people commit murders, we tend to write them off as if they are bad people… this oversimplication decreases our understanding of the causes of a great deal of human behaviour  The tendency to explain others’ behavior as stemming from internal rather than situational factors can lead to tragic consequences, including blaming victims for their plight. Ie: women who are sexually assaulted are often seen as having somehow caused the attack.  Social and environmental factors are so powerful that they have dramatic influence on almost everyone.  Subjectivity of social situation – important to look at the situation from the viewpoint of the people in it, to see how they construe the world around them  Emphasis on construal has roots in gestalt psychology: study the subjective way in which an object appears in people’s minds (the gestalt, or whole)  Kurt Lewin – founding father of modern experimental social psych – 1 scientist to fully realize the importance of taking the perspective of the people in any social situation to see how they construe (ie: perceive, interpret, distort) this social environment Where Construals Come From: Basic Human Motives  2 motives of primary importance: need to be accurate and need to feel good about ourselves  Leon Festinger believed that when these 2 motives tug in opposite directions, we are able to gain our most valuable insights into workings of the human heart and mind  Self esteem: people’s evaluation of their own self worth – people often distort the world to make themselves feel good  Justifying past behaviour – difficult to own up to major deficiencies in ourselves, even when the cost is seeing the world inaccurately.. consequence: decreases probability of learning from behaviour  Suffering and self-justification – when people submit to a painful/embarrassing initiation in order to join a group, they need to justify the experience to avoid looking foolish. One way is to decide that the initiation was worth it b/c group is so wonderful. Builds cohesiveness. .. the more unpleasant the procedure, the more they liked the group.  Social cognition: how people select, interpret, remember, and use social info .. under assumption that people try to view world as accurately as possible.  Evolutionary approach: Charles Darwin – Natural selection: heritable traits that promote survival are passed on to future generations  Evolutionary psychology: attempts to explain social behaviour in terms of genetic factors that evolved over time according to the principles of natural selection.  CHAPTER 2: METHODOLOGY  Social Psychology: An Empirical Science  Hindsight bias: people exaggerate how much they could have predicted an outcome after knowing that it occurred; tendency to think ‘we knew it all along’ Formulating Hypothesis and Theories  Theory: organized set of principles that can be used to explain observed phenomenon  Hypothesis: testable statement/idea about the relationship between 2+ variables  Operation definition: precise specification of how variables are measured/manipulated The Observational Method  Observational Method: Researcher observes people and systematically records measurement of their behaviour.  Varies in degree to which observer actually participates in the scene.  Ethnography: researcher attempts to understand a group or culture by observing it from the inside without imposing any preconceived notions they might have  Important to establish interjudge reliability: level of agreement between 2+ people who independently observe and code a set of data. By independently coming up with same observations, ensures objectivity.  Archival analysis: researcher examines accumulated documents, or archives, of a culture. Ie: diaries, novels, suicide notes, lyrics, tv shows, etc. The Correlational Method  Ideal for answering question about whether two variables are related and the strength of the relation.  Correlational Method: researchers systematically measure 2+ variables and assess the relation between them  Correlation coefficient: statistic that assesses how well you can predict one variable based on another  Correlational method often used for surveys  Correlation does not equal causation.. only tells you that two variables are related.  3 possible causal relations between variables: A causes B, B causes A, or no correlation between A, B, but rd 3 variable caused relation. The Experimental Method  only way to determine causal relations.  Experimental method: researcher randomly assigns participants to different conditions and ensures that these conditions are identical except for the independent variable (the one thought to cause people’s responses.  Independent variable: variable researcher changes or varies  Dependent variable: variable researcher measures to see if it is influenced by the independent variable  Internal validity in experiments – keeping everything the same but the independent variable  Random assignment to condition: all participants have equal chance of taking part in any condition of an experiment  Probability level (p-value): tells researchers how likely it is that the results of their experiment occurred by chance and not b/c of the independent variable.. results are significant (trustworthy) if they are less that 0.05.  External validity in experiments – extent to which results of study can be generalized to other situations and other people.  Generalizability across situations – making experiments as realistic as possible o Mundane realism: similar to real life situations – difficult to achieve in lab setting o Psychological realism – how similar psychological processes triggered are to real life o Use of a cover story to heighten psychological realism  Generalizability across people – through random selection  Ultimate test of external validity – replication.. with different subject populations or different settings.  Meta analysis: averages results of 2+ studies to see if the effect of an independent variable is reliable  Cross-cultural research: research conducted with members of different cultures to see whether the psychological processes of interest are present across cultures or whether they are specific to a single culture.  Basic research: find the best answer as to why people behave the way they do, purely for the reason of intellectual curiosity  Applied research: solve a particular social problem; building a theory of behaviour is usually secondary to solving the specific problem. CHAPTER 5: SELF-KNOWLEDGE AND THE NEED TO MAINTAIN SELF-ESTEEM The Nature of the Self  William James described the basic duality of our perception of self.. in modern terms, the ‘known’ aspect is the self concept: contents of the self (our knowledge about who we are) and the ‘knower’ aspect is the self awareness: act of thinking about ourselves o These combine to create a coherent sense of identity  ‘rouge test’ – chimps and orangutans, and possibly dolphins, have a rudimentary self concept. They realize that the image in the mirror is them and not another animal, and recognized that they looked different after having the red dot on them.  Self-recognition develops at around age:2  Child’s self concept is clear-cult, easily observable characteristics ie: age, sex, neighbourhood, hobbies. As we mature, more emphasis on psychological states ie: thoughts and feelings, our traits or characteristics and consideration of how others judge us  Thought suppression – form of self control that often doesn’t work very well and often backfires.  People have limited amount of energy to devote to self control.. this explains why we often fail at self control when we are under stress. Efforts at self control are more likely to fail at night  Schema – body of knowledge that helps us organize what we know about the social world; influences the info we notice, think about, and remember  Self-schema: organized body of knowledge about ourselves – our attitudes, our likes/dislikes, our personality traits, etc.  Self reference effect: tendency for people to remember info better if they relate it to themselves  Self-concept clarity: extent to which knowledge about the self is stable, and clearly and consistently defined  People who are low in self concept clarity tend to have low self esteem, are depression prone, and are more neurotic and less aware of their internal states than those who are high in self concept clarity.  Western cultures – tend to have an independent view of the self: defining oneself in terms of one’s own internal thoughts, feelings and actions, and not in terms of the thoughts, feelings, actions of other people. – value independence and uniqueness; individual characteristics ie: exciting personality, attractive, etc.  Asian; collectivist cultures – tend to have a interdependent view of the self: defining self in terms of the relationships to other people and recognizing that one’s behaviour is often determined by the thoughts, feelings and actions of others. – value connectedness and interdependence; communal qualities ie: kind, accepting, loyal. Canadians see themselves in terms of individual characteristics ie: exciting personality, interesting, etc  Women’s self-concepts reflect relational interdependence; focus more on their close relationships. Women rated relational traits ie: warm, affectionate, loving, as more self-descriptive than men Knowing Ourselves Through Introspection  Introspection: look inward and examine own thoughts, feelings, motives. o People spend very little time thinking about themselves o Reasons for feelings and behaviour may be hidden from conscious awareness  Self-awareness theory: when we focus our attention on ourselves, we evaluate and compare our current behaviour against our internal standards/values  Alcohol abuse, binge eating and suicide are all ways of avoiding negative thoughts about oneself.. people can escape self awareness through more positive means ie: religious expressions, spirituality  East Asians are more likely to use an outside perspective on the self, viewing themselves through the eyes of other people. Western cultures are more likely to have an insider perspective on the self, focusing on their own private experiences wi
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