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PSYB10H3 Study Guide - Subtyping, Statistical Significance, Trait Theory

Course Code
Elizabeth Page- Gould

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Social Psychology
1. What is Social Psychology?
what is social psychology?
Defining social psychology
it is the scientific study of how individuals thing, feel, and behave in a social context
a. scientific study: what makes social psychology stand out is that it is a science and applies the
scientific method of systematic observation, description and measurement to study the human
b. how individuals think, feel and behave: social psychology is different from the other socials
sciences like economics and political sciences because it strives to establish general principles
of attitude formation and change that apply in a variety of situations rather than exclusively to
particular domains
social psychology focuses on the individual whereas sociology for instance looks at group
factors e.g. classifying people by nationality/race
c. a social context: focuses on the social nature of individuals, in order to establish general
principles of human behavior social psychologists examine nonsocial factors that affect peoples
thoughts, emptions, motives and actions
e.g. whether heat causes an increase in aggression or whether Steve Nash causes an increase
in sales of Nike shoes b/c the thoughts, feelings and behaviors either a) concern other ppl or b)
are influenced by other people
The power of the social context: an example of a social psychology experiment
- Erin Strahan: proposed that when woman view images of body norms it reminds them that
they are being judges on their appearance and than they are unable to live up this expectation
- Asked to rate themselves based on a variety of measurements such as self worth, self-esteem
and how concerned they were with the opinions of other people
making changes to the social context in a + way by promoting + rather than expectations
about an individual/group can have a powerfully positive effect
Social psychology and related fields: distinctions and interactions
a. social psychology and sociology
- individual level vs group level
- e.g. sociologists might track the political attitudes of the middle class in Canada whereas social
psychologists might examine some of the specific factors that make individuals prefer one
political candidate to another
- social psychologists will manipulate some variable and determine the effects of this
manipulation using precise quantifiable measures
- both share the same training, publish in the same journals
b. social psychology and clinical psychology
- clinical psychologists understand/treat ppl with psychological disorders/difficulties whereas
social psychologists focus on typical ways in which individuals think, feel, behave and influence
each other
c. social psychology and personality psychology
- both concerned with individuals and their thoughts, feelings and behaviors
- personality psychology seeks to understand differences between individuals that remain stable
across a variety of situations (cross-situational consistency) whereas social psychology seeks
to understand how social factors affect most individuals regardless of their different
d. social psychology and cognitive psychology
- cp study mental processes such as thinking, learning, remembering and reasoning, sp are
interested in how ppl think, learn, remember and reason with respect to social information and
in how these processes are relevant to social behavior
Social psychology and common sense
- sp psychology uses scientific method to put its theories to the test
from past to present: a brief history of social psychology
The birth and infancy of social psychology 1880’s-1920’s
- American psychologist Norman Triplett can be credited for marking the birth of modern day
social psychology
- He observed that bicyclists race faster when racing in the presence of others than when racing
against a clock
- He designed an experiment to study this phenomenon in a controlled and precise way
- French agricultural engineer Max Ringelmann studied the effects of the presence of others on
the performance of individuals
- Noted that individuals often performed worse on simple tasks such as pulling rope when they
performed the tasks with others
- English psychologist William McDougall, and 2 Americans Edward ross and Floyd Allport wrote
the first 3 textbooks in social psychology and where the first to establish social psychology as a
distinct field of study
- Allports book focused on the interaction of individuals and their social context and its
emphasis on the use of experimentation and the scientific method
A call to action 1930s-1950s
- Adolf Hitler has had the strongest influence on the field of social psychology
- he provoked a slue of social psychological questions about what causes violence, prejudice,
genocide , conformity and obedience as well as other social problems and behaviors
- after world war 2 marked an explosion of interest in social psychology
- Gordon Allport formed the society for the psychological study of social issues, this society made
practical contributions to society
- Muzafer Sherif published experimental research on social influence
a. he had witnessed greek soldiers killing his friends
b. he drew from this experience and conducted research on the powerful influences groups
exert on their individual members
c. crucial for the development of social psych b/c it demonstrated that it is possible to study
complex social processes such as conformity and social influence in a quick/scientific
- Kurt Lewin fled the Nazi onslaught in Germany and established many fundamental principles
a. behavior is a function of the interaction between the person and the environment
- now known as the interactionist perspective
- is an emphasis on how both an individuals personality and environment characteristics
influence behavior
- emphasized the interplay of internal and external factors and marked a sharp contract form
other major psychological paradigms
psychoanalysis with its emphasis on internal motives and fantasies and behaviorism, with
its focus on external rewards and punishments
b. social psychologist theories should be applied to important, practical issues
- “no research without action, no action without research”
Confidence and crisis 1960s-mid-1970s
- Stanley Milgram’s research was inspired by the destructive obedience shown by nazi
officers/ordinary citizens in world war 2
- And also looked ahead to the civil disobedience that was beginning to challenge institutions all
over the world
linking the post world war 2 era with the coming era of social revolution
- her experiments demonstrated individuals vulnerability to the destructive commands of
- this was a time of productivity as well as crisis and heated debate
- disagreements surrounded the dominant research method at the time: laboratory experiments
unethical, experimenters expectations influenced participants behaviors, theories being
tested in the lab were historically and culturally limited, feminist research was left out
social psych is split in 2 now
An era of pluralism mid-1970s-1990s
- both sides win
- a pluralistic approach is recognized b/c no one research method is perfect, diff topics require
diff kinds of investigation
- pluralism extends in what aspects of human behavior are emphasized
hot perspective: emotion and motivation as determinants of our thoughts and actions
cold perspective: emphasizes the role of cognition, examine the way ppls thoughts affect
how they feel, what they want and what they do
you can examine these perspectives separately/interactively
- another example of pluralism is the development of multicultural/international perspectives
- before the 1990’s sp was culture-bound, largely monocultural
- after 1990 this changed reflecting the diff geographic and cultural backgrounds of its
researchers and participants but also the recognition that many social psychological
phenomena vary depending on culture
social psychology in a new country
Integration of emotion, motivation, and cognition
- social cognition is the study of how people perceive, remember, and interpret information
about themselves and others
- sc out hot perspectives (emotion, motivation) to the back burner
- a new development in the field is the interest in how individuals emotions and motivations
influence their thoughts and actions
- there is now a push to integrate these 2 perspectives
how ppls motivations influence nonconscious cognitive processes
- an issue that arises from integrating hot and cold perspectives is wanting to be right and
wanting to feel good about ourselves