Social Psychology

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University of Toronto Scarborough
John Bassili

Chapter 15- Social Psychology Social Psychology: the branch of psychology that studies our social nature-how the actual, imagined or implied presence of others influences our thoughts, feelings and behaviours (in the words of Gordon Allport) Social Cognition - social cognition: the processes involved in perceiving, interpreting, and acting on social information Schemata and Social Cognition - we form impressions of others: friends, family, neighbours; assign characteristics to people - part of social psychology is to understand how we form these impressions - impression formation: the way in which we integrate information about anothers traits into a coherent sense of who the person is; involves complex rules and is NOT just the simple sum of characteristics that we use to describe people - Schema - schema: a mental framework or body of knowledge that organizes and synthesizes information about a person, place of thing - help us in interpreting the world - read laundry example (pg. 473) - Central Traits - central traits: personality attributes that organize and influence the interpretation of other traits - central traits impart meaning to other known traits and suggest the presence of yet other traits that have yet to be revealed - example- traits such as cold or warm - polite or blunt though made no difference in impression, hence are known as peripheral traits - negative effect of cold though is stronger than the positive effect of warm; negative information, conveyed by a negative central trait- more discrepant and salient; people are generally thought to have positive traits; bias toward positivity in impressions of people - gender difference (read foolish females and males example pg. 474) - The Primacy Effect - primacy effect: the tendency to form impressions of people based on the first information we receive about them (first impression) - read party example (pg. 474) - trait labels from behavioural descriptions may become associated with almost any stimulus, including inanimate ones- not always right? - reread section (pg. 474) The Self - self-concept: self-identity. Ones knowledge, feelings and ideas about oneself - self: a persons distinct individuality - self-concept is your self-identity; how you perceive yourself and interpret events that are relevant to defining who you are - core of the self-concept- self-schema - self-schema: a mental framework that represents and synthesizes information about oneself; a cognitive structure that organizes the knowledge, feelings and ideas that constitute the self-concept - self-concept is dynamic; changes with experience - each of us has many potential selves that we might become, depending on experience - thinking of ourselves only in terms of who we are at present does not accurately reflect how we will think of ourselves in the future or the kind of person we might become Culture and Social Psychology - cross-cultural psychologists: a branch of psychology that studies the effects of culture on behaviour - culture traditionally referred to a group of people who live together in a common environment who share customs and religious beliefs and practices and who often resemble each other genetically - now, however, definition of culture varies widely - cultures differ with respect to two major classes of variables: biological and ecological - biological variables include factors such as diet, genetics, and endemic diseases - ecological variables include factors such as geography, climate, political systems, population density, religion, cultural myths and education - behavioural differences among people of different cultures result from differences in biological and ecological variables - in cross-cultural research, culture is considered to be a treatment variable- something like an independent variable but cannot be assigned by psychologist performing experiments and hence cross-cultural comparisons are subject to the same limitations that affect other correlational studies - cultural psychologists strive to better understand the psychological principles that inform cultural practice and in turn, how these practices affect various psychological processes - read example about North American and Japanese children and food (pg. 476)- related to self-concept - two interpretations (construals) of self that reflect cultural differences: independent
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