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Wilfrid Laurier University
Christian Jordan

Reading 1: Introduction and Methods What is social psychology? Social psychology: Scientific study of how people think about, influence and relate to one another • Focuses on individuals with methods that more often use experimentation • Focuses less on differences among individuals and more on how individuals in general view and affect one another • More individualistic in its content and more experimental in its method than sociology • Social psychology arose in 1898; the first social psychology texts did not appear until just after 1900 in France, Italy and Germany • Examples of social psychology • How much of our social world is just in our heads? • Would you be cruel if ordered? Ex. Nazi's actions were orders given to them • To help others or to help yourself? Major Themes in Social Psychology 1. We construct our reality • As humans, we have an urge to explain behaviour, attribute it to some cause to make it seem orderly, predictable and controllable • Two people may react differently to similar situations Ex.Attributing spouse's insult to bad day or hostility • When someone's behaviour is consistent and distinctive, we attribute their behaviour to their personality Ex. Someone who makes repeated snide comments is likely to be viewed as someone with a nasty disposition and avoid that person 2. Our social intuitions are often powerful but sometimes perilous • Intuition shapes fears, impressions and relationships Ex. Influences leaders in time of crisis, gamblers at the table, jurors in assessment of guilt • Thinking, memory and attitudes all operate on two levels; one conscious and deliberate, the other unconscious and automatic • Intuitions are powerful but also unreliable Ex. Misperceive others, often fail to acknowledge how your expectations shape our evaluations Trust memories more than we should Misread our own minds Mispredict our own feelings 3. Social influences shape our behaviour • As humans, we long to connect, belong and be well thought of • Sometimes power of social situation leads us to act in ways that depart from our normal attitudes Ex. Under Nazi influence, many otherwise decent people became instruments of the Holocaust • Culture helps define situation; standards regarding promptness, frankness and clothing vary with your culture Examples Whether you prefer slim/voluptuous body depends on where in the world you live Whether you define "social justice" as equality or equity depends on whether your view was shaped by socialism or capitalism Whether you tend to be expressive vs. reserved, casual or formal, etc. depends greatly on culture and ethnicity Individualistic vs. collectivist society • Behaviour is shaped by external forces; we adapt to social context • Humans are malleable 4. Personal attitudes and dispositions also shape behaviour • Internal forces also matter Inner attitudes affect behaviour, political attitudes influence voting behaviour, attitude toward smoking influences our susceptibility to peer pressures to smoke • Personality dispositions also affect behaviour Ex. Facing same situation, different people may react differently 5. Social behaviour is biologically rooted • Inherited human nature predisposes us to behave in ways that helped our ancestors survive • How natural selection might predispose our actions and reactions when dating/mating, hating/hurting, caring/sharing • Nature endows us with a capacity to learn and adapt to varied environments • Social neuroscience:An integration of biological and social perspectives that explores the neural and psychological bases of social and emotional behaviours Ex. What brain areas enable our experiences of love/contempt, helping/aggression, perception/belief? Believe that in order to understand social behaviour, we must consider both under-the- skin (biological) and between-skins (social) influences Ex. Stress hormones affect how we feel and act; social ostracism raises blood pressure • We are bio-psycho-social organisms 6. Relating to others is a basic need • Our relationships with others form basis of self-esteem • Mark Leary + Roy Baumeister argue that our self-esteem is nothing more than a reading of how accepted we feel by others 7. Social psychology's principles are applicable in everyday life Social Psychology and Human Values • Not-so-obvious ways in which values enter social psychology • The subjective aspects of science Science is not purely objective View world through lens of our own preconceptions Culture: The enduring behaviours, ideas, attitudes, traditions, products and institutions shared by a large group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next Social representations: Socially shared beliefs; widely held ideas and values, including our assumptions and cultural ideologies Our social representations help us make sense of our world • The hidden values in psychological concepts Defining the good life Values influence our idea of the best way to live our lives Ex. Maslow's definition of "self-actualized" person stems from the selected sample of self-actualized people he described Reflected Maslow's personal values Professional advice Psychological advice also reflects the advice giver's personal values Ex. When psychologists guide us on certain aspects of our lives (child-rearing, etc.) they are expressing their personal values Science can and will not answer questions of ultimate moral obligation, purpose, direction or life's meaning Forming concepts Hidden values seep into psychology's research-based concepts Depending on labelling Ex. Take test, psychologist suggests that you are high in self-esteem; take another test, researcher says you are high in "repressiveness" Labelling: Value judgements are often hidden within our social-psychological language Ex. Whether we label a quiet child as "bashful" or "cautious"/"holding back" vs. "an observer" Remarks about "ambitious" men and "aggressive" women convey a hidden message Naturalistic fallacy Naturalistic fallacy: The error of defining what is good in terms of what is observable Ex. What's typical is normal, what's normal is good If most people don't do something, that does not make it wrong; if most people do something, that does not make it right We inject our values whenever we move from objective statements of fact to prescriptive statements of what ought to be Systematic observation and experimentation help "clean the lens which we see reality" • Hindisght bias Social psychology is criticized for being trivial because it documents things that seem obvious Experiments reveal that outcomes are more "obvious" after the facts are known Paul Lazarsfeld (1949) Conducted study where he told "findings" of characteristics of soldiers in WWII Ex. Soldiers from southern climate coped better with the hot South Sea Island weather than did northern soldiers (southern people are more accustomed to warm weather) Later revealed that his "findings" (that many thought were common sense) were actually the opposite Hindsight bias: The tendency to exaggerate, after learning the outcome, one's ability to have foreseen how something turned out Aka "I-knew-it-all-along" phenomenon Research Methods • Social psychologists organize ideas and findings into theories • Theory:An integrated set of principles that explain and predict observed events Theories are often viewed as "less than fact" Ex. People may dismiss Darwin's theory of evolution as "just a theory" Alan Leshner: "Evolution is only a theory, but so is gravity" People often respond that gravity is a fact The fact is that your keys fall to the ground when dropped; gravity is just the theoretical explanation that accounts for such observed facts Facts vs. Theories Facts:Agreed-upon statements that we observe Theories: Ideas that summarize and explain facts Theories also imply testable predictions; hypotheses Hypotheses:Atestable proposition that describes a relationship that may exist between events Allow us to test theory on which they are based Gives direction to research Theoretical predictions suggest new areas for research; send investigators looking for things they might never have thought of Predictive feature of good theories can also make them practical Operationalization: Translating variables that are described at the theoretical level into the specific variables that we are going to observe Ex. Testing why deindividuation occurs; specify what a "crowd" would be considered (20 people, 30 people, etc.) Does operational variable of "crowd" represent what we mean theoretically by a crowd? Agood theory will distill an array of facts into a much shorter list of predictive principles Can use predictions to confirm or modify the theory, generate new research and suggest practical applications • Most social-psychological research is either correlational or experimental • Research can vary by location; laboratory vs. field Laboratory: Controlled situation Field: Research done in natural, real-life settings outside of the laboratory • Correlational: The study of naturally occurring relationships among variables to see if two or more factors are naturally associated Sometimes conducted with systematic survey methods Discern relationship between variables Ex.Amount of education and amount of income Knowing two things are naturally related is valuable information, but seldom indicates what is causing what, or whether there is a third variable involved Correlation vs. causation Allows us to predict but I cannot tell us whether changing on variable (ex. social status) will cause changes in another (ex. health) • Experimental: Studies that seek clues to cause-effect relationships by manipulating one or more factors (independent variables) while controlling others (holding them constant) Explore cause and effect behaviour Experimenters can vary one thing and then another and discover how these things (separately or in combination) affect behaviour Randomly assign participants to an experimental condition (experimental treatment) or to a control condition (does not receive treatment) Attribute any resulting difference between the two conditions to independent variable In creating experiments, social psychologists sometimes stage situations that engage people's emotions Obliged to follow professional ethical guidelines Obtaining people's informed consent, protecting them from harm, fully disclosing afterwards any temporary deceptions, etc. Laboratory experiments enable social psychologists to test ideas gleaned from life experience and then apply the principles and findings back in the real world • Survey research Random sample: Survey procedure in which every person in the population being studied has an equal chance of inclusion With this procedure, any subgroup of people (ex. red hair) will tend to be represented in the survey to the extent that they are represented in the total population Biasing influences Unrepresentative samples: The part of the sample that may have changed the outcome if they had been surveyed Ex. If 1 in 100 people are surveyed, it may not accurately depict the opinion of the other 99 out of 100 people that went unnoticed Order of the questions Ex. First asked whether "theAmerican government should be allowed to set limits on how much Japanese industry can sell in the United States", most answered yes; then asked whether "the Japanese government should be allowed to set limits on how much American industry can sell in Japan", which mostAmericans answered no Did so in order to seem consistent in their answers Response bias and social desirability Social desirability: The tendency for people to say what they want others to hear/what they want to believe about themselves Psychologists have developed new methods of measuring people's beliefs without them knowing that their beliefs are being measured Wording of the question Ex. On poll found that people favoured cutting "foreign aid" but opposed cutting funding "to help hungry people in other nations" Prior knowledge to topic prevent this bias • Experimental research; cause and effect Control: manipulating variables Independent variable: The experimental factor that a research manipulates Dependent variable: The variable being measured Depend on manipulations of the IV Random assignments: The process of assigning participants to the conditions of an experiment such that all persons have the same chance of being in a given condition Eliminates all extraneous factors • Ethics of experimentation Mundane realism: Degree to which an experiment is superficially similar to everyday situations Experimental realism: Degree to which an experiment absorbs and involves its participants Demand characteristics: Cues in an experiment that tells the participant what behaviour is expected Informed consent:An ethical principle requiring that research participants be told enough to enable them to choose whether they wish to participate • Two methods of research Correlational Advantage: Often use real-world settings Disadvantage: Causation often ambiguous Experimental Advantage: Can explore cause and effect by controlling variables and by random assignment Disadvantage: Some important variables cannot be studied with experiments Lecture: (1) Introduction and Methods Examples The Kitty Genovese Murder • The assailant returned after his initial attack several time to stab her again because of her cries for help which no one answered • Roughly 35 residents heard her call and failed to answer • New York Abu Ghraib • U.S. jailers/personal tormenting prisoners of war from Iraq • Torturing or simulating torture/sexual acts Stanford Prison Experiment • 1973, Stanford University • 10 men guards, 10 men prisoners • Supposed to last 2 weeks, lasted 3 days • Forcing to simulate sexual acts, were tormenting verbally/physically • “It’s not that we put bad apples in a good barrel. We put good apples in a bad barrel. The barrel corrupts anything it touches.” – P. Zimbardo Social Psychological Questions • Why do guards demean prisoners? • Why do people sometimes not help? Key Features of Social Psych: • Social Behavior and thought • Identifying causes • Role of cognitive process • Scientific method • Terms - Sociology: Provides general laws and theories about societies or social groups, not individuals. - Social Psychology: Studies the psychological processes people have in common that make them susceptible to social influence. - Personality Psychology: Studies the characteristics that make people unique and different from one another. • Social and personality psychology are closely related • Important Themes in Social Psychology 1. The power of the situation (Nazis being “cogs” in the machine that powered the holocaust) 2. The role of construal (the checkerboard illusion) (using situational reason over simply what your eyes see) • Reactions to a situation depend on interpretation and inference (of which we may be unaware) • Subjective “construction” of reality 3. Interplay of motivational and cognitive factors • Motivation – hopes, wishes, desires • Cognition – how the mind works 4. Applicable to important social issues Important Themes: Culture • Culture is relevant throughout the course • Psychology of Culture • How does culture influence how we understand, influence and relate to others? • Cultural Comparison • Do the phenomena observed in Western samples generalize to other cultures? What is Culture? • The man-made part of the environment 1. Material Culture 2. Subjective Culture (ideas about what works) • Unquestioned assumptions, standard operating procedures • “Culture is to society what memory is to individuals” Identifying Culture • Cultural ideas are shared • Often correspond to a particular language )dialect), time period, and geographic region • Subcultures can emerge from shared characteristics, eg. Gender, ethnicity, neighborhood, occupation, social class, etc Cultural Syndromes • Shared elements of subjective culture organized around a theme • Cultural complexity (strongly associated with size of society. Bigger societies demand more role differentiation) • Tightness (a tight culture has many rules and expectations, violation of rules and norms are taken seriously, eg. Japan) • Vertical and horizontal cultures (vertical society accepts social hierarchy as a given, aka, some people are just better and are endowed with more power and privileged than others. Horizontal is much more accepting of the idea that individuals should be more equal) • Individualism and collectivism (most important in regards to this course. Boils down to the needs of individuals and collective groups. Individualistic societies prioritize their own needs over a groups needs, vice versa for collective societies. We, Canada, are individualistic) Individualist (relative to Collectivist) • Attend to social groups less • Are proud of personal accomplishment • Define status by accomp0lishments (rather than relationships or affiliations) • Are competitive • Are not as concerned about cooperation and smooth social interaction • Believe in autonomy and self-reliance • • • Goals of the Course • Introduction to a knowledge base • Introduction to a perspective • Away of thinking about social behaviour • Social behaviour can be explored in a systematic, scientific manner • Reason for study: Practical implications Personal Interests Social psychology and common sense • Beauty and brain don't mix • "Halo effect" • Tend to believe more attractive people are less intelligent • Larger rewards make people enjoy activities more • Ex. of falsability: Football/soccer enjoyment diminishes when one does it as a job • People believe they are more unique than they really are • "False consensus" • Violent video games release aggression, making people less aggressive • Supposedly let's off steam • No evidence that this is true • Actually has shown to increase violent behaviour Common sense criticism • "Day after day, social scientists go into the world and discover that people's behaviour is pretty much what you'd expect." • People think research in social psych is useless because it is "common sense" • Problems with common sense criticism • Common wisdom is unclear, ambiguous and contradictory Ex. Competing proverbs Too many cooks spoil the broth vs. two heads are better than one Pen is mightier than the sword vs. actions speak louder than words How do you establish which one is true? • Common wisdom is often inaccurate or incomplete Ex. Fundamental attribution error; causal explanation of behaviour Recap; the tendency to overestimate personality as a cause of behaviour and to underestimate the power of the situation Ex. See someone being helpful - assume person I naturally helpful; do not consider situation (wants to look good, impress someone, etc.) • Hindsight bias When told results of study, you feel as though you knew all along what the result would be Fischoff, 1975 Participants presented with factual questions What magazine had the highest circulation in 1979? Condition 1: Estimate the likelihood that you have answered the question correctly before knowing answer Condition 2:After knowing the answer, estimate the likelihood that you would have answered correctly if you had not been told the answer Assume what is acceptable is right • Research Methods • Social psych is based on empirical evidence • Test hypotheses against systematic observation • Hypotheses and variables • Hypothesis: How two or more variables are thought to be related Ex. Increased exposure to media violence leads to increase in aggression Will often be causal; x causes y • Independent variable (IV): Presumed cause • Dependent variable (DV): Presumed effect, dependant on IV • Theory:An organized set of principles that can be used to explain observed phenomena • Social psychologists engage in continual process of theory refinement Theory -> Hypothesis -> Test -> Revise -> Theory, etc. Researchers often see a phenomenon in everyday life, devise theory and design a study to test it • Experimental vs. Correlational Studies • Experimental; IV manipulated, DV measured • Correlational; IV measured, DV measured • Correlational research • Can reveal whether changes in one is associated with change in another Correlational study relating class attendance to GPA • Direction and strength of relationship indexed by correlation coefficient R = -1.0 to r = 1.0 0 = no correlation • Positive correlation:As value of X increases, value or Y increases; slope going upwards as it goes along X axis • Negative correlation:As value of X increases, value of Y decreases; slope going downwards as it goes along X axis • Correlations and Cause • 3 possible causal interpretations Causal; X = Y Reverse causation Y = X Roles of variables are backwards Think X = Y but Y = X Third variable Outside variable influencing other variables Z = X + Y Ex. GPA= class attendance Having a job is an extraneous factor; aka Z • Experimental Research • Can reveal whether changes in one variable (IV) lead to changes in another variable (DV) • Cause and effect • Two key features Manipulation of IV Ex. Get one group of kids to play violent video games, the other a non-violent video game Random assignment to conditions Ex. Flip a coin to determine which kid joins which group • Experimental Methods • Strive to ensure that experimental conditions are identical except for the IV manipulation Control extraneous variable • Random assignment Doesn't erase dispositional characteristics; average aggressive traits are spread among both groups • Internal validity • Random Assignment • Experimental (DV) condition, play violent video games, measure aggression • Control (IV) condition, play non-violent video games, measure aggression • Subject self-selection • Have different groups to compare • Participants may have selected themselves into groups Might have differed beforehand Ex. Those who used Connect might have been more motivated to do work, implying that they are more studious, resulting in a higher GPA • Why not always use an experiment? • Impossible, impractical, unethical • Limits of experimentation Some variables cannot be manipulated Ex. Gender, age, race, social class Ethical concerns about manipulations Smoking, unsafe sexual behaviour Artificially of studies Mundane vs. psychological realism Not everyday situations Mundane realism: The extent to which what participants are doing would occur in day-to- day life What is being studied vs. how often it happens in everyday life Psychological realism:AKAexperimental realism • Ethics to experimentation Deception: Misleading participants about purposes or events in study Social psychologists sometimes employ cover stories Increases psychological realism Reduces demand characteristics and social desirability concerns Debriefing: Explaining the purpose of a study and what actually transpired • Reading 2: Self and Identity The Self • Connection between what happens in the world around and what goes on in our heads • Social surroundings affect our self-awareness • Self-interest colours our social judgement • Self-concern motivates our social behaviour • Social relationships help define the self • Sense of self helps organize our thoughts and actions • Self-concepts consists of two elements: Self-schemas Possible selves Self Concept • Self-concept:Aperson's answers to the questions "Who am I?" • Medial prefrontal cortex (neuron path located in cleft between brain hemispheres behind the eyes) help stitch together our sense of self • Self-schema: Beliefs about self that organize and guide the processing of self-relevant information • Ex. Perceiving ourselves as athletic, smart, etc. • Possible selves: Images of what we dream of or dread becoming in the future • Help motivate us for the life we strive for, or the life we are trying to avoid • Development of social self • Studies of twins point to genetic influences on personality and self-concept in combination with social experience • Influences include: Our social identity Social identity: The "we" aspect of our self-concept The part of our answer to "who am I?" that comes from our group memberships Ex. "I am Canadian" When we are apart of the majority, we are less conscious of our social identity Ex.Asolo Canadian in a group of Europeans Comparisons we make with others Social comparisons: Evaluating your abilities and opinions by comparing yourself to others Compare ourselves to those around us and become conscious of how we differ Use others as a benchmark by which we can evaluate our performance and beliefs Our successes and failures Ex.After experiencing academic success, students believe they are better at school, which often stimulates them to work harder and achieve more How other people judge us Looking glass self: Our use of how we think others perceive us as a mirror for perceiving ourselves (Cooley) Herbert Mead refined the concept What matters for our self-concept is not how others actually see us but the way we imagine they see us Our self esteem tracks how we see ourselves on traits that we believe are valued by others The surrounding culture Individualism: The concept of giving priority to one's own goals over group goals and defining one's identity in terms of personal attributes rather than group identifications "I am" test Collectivism: Giving priority to the goals of one's groups (family or work group) and defining one's identity accordingly Interdependent self: Construing one's identity in relation to others Self-Knowledge • Predicting behaviour • Planning fallacy: The tendency to underestimate how long it will take to complete a task • Predicted feelings • Often over/under estimate how we will feel after an incident Ex.After a break up, we think we will be "heartbroken" for months, but it really lasts a few weeks to a month • Impact bias: Overestimating the enduring impact of emotion-causing events Faster than we expect, the emotional traces of such good tidings evaporate • Immune neglect: The human tendency to underestimate the speed and strength of the "psychological immune system" Psychological immune system: Enables emotional recovery and resilience after bad things happen Includes strategies for rationalizing, discounting, forgiving and limiting emotional trauma • The wisdom and illusions of self-analysis • Studies of perception and memory show that we are more aware of the results of our thinking than its process • Dual attitude system: Differing implicit (automatic) and explicit (consciously controlled) attitudes toward the same object Verbalized explicit attitudes may change with education and persuasion; implicit attitudes change slowly, with practice that forms new habits Self-Esteem: How am I? • Self-esteem:Aperson's overall self-evaluation or sense of self-worth we use to appraise our traits and abilities • Our self-concepts are determined by multiple influences, including the roles we play, the comparisons we make, our social identities, how we perceive others appraising us and our experiences of success and failure • Self-esteem motivation influences cognitive processes Facing failure, high self-esteem people sustain their self-worth by perceiving other people as failing too and by exaggerating their superiority over others • The "dark side" of self esteem • Low self-esteem predicts increased risk of depression, drug abuse and some forms of delinquency • Researchers have found that people high in both self-esteem and narcissism are the most aggressive Someone with a big ego who is threatened or deflated by social rejection is potentially aggressive The Self In Action • Our sense of self helps organize our thoughts and actions • Out ability to effortfully regulate our behaviour, or willpower, works similarly to muscular strength • Can be exhausted by use in short term but can also be strengthened by regular exercise • Weaker after exertion, replenished with rest and strengthened by exercise • Learned helplessness often occurs when attempts to improve a situation have been proven fruitless • Learned helplessness: The hopelessness and resignation learned when a human or animal perceives no control over repeated bad events • If you develop self-control in one aspect of your life, it may spill over into other areas as well • Self-determination, in contrast, is bolstered by experiences of successfully exercising control and improving one's situation • People who believe in their own competence and effectiveness cope better and achieve more than those who have learned a helpless, pessimistic outlook • People with a higher self-efficacy succeed more than those with a lower sense of self- efficacy Self-Serving Bias • Self-serving bias: The tendency to perceive yourself favourably • Self-serving attributions:Aform of self-serving bias; the tendency to attribute positive outcomes to yourself and negative outcomes to other factors • Contribute to marital discord, worker dissatisfaction and bargaining impasses • We see ourselves as objective and everyone else as bias • False consensus effect: The tendency to overestimate the commonality of one's opinions and one's undesirable or unsuccessful behaviours • As people's own lives change, they see the world changing Ex. Protective new parents come to see the world as a more dangerous place Ex. People who harbour negative ideas about another racial group presume that many others also have negative stereotypes • False uniqueness effect: The tendency to underestimate the commonality of one's abilities and one's desirable or successful behaviours • May see failings as relatively normal and our virtues as relatively exceptional • Temporal comparison:Acomparison between how the self is viewed now and how the self was viewed in the past or how the self is expected to be viewed in the future • Self serving bias + examples • Self-serving attribution Ex. "I got an Ain history because I studied hard. I got a D in sociology because the exams were unfair." • Comparison to others Ex. "I'm better to my parents than my sister is." • Unrealistic optimism Ex. "Even though 50% of marriages fail, I know mine will be one of enduring joy." • False consensus and uniqueness "I know most people agree with me that global warming threatens our future." • Self serving bias also inflate people's judgement of their groups • Group-serving bias: Explaining away out-group members' positive behaviours Also attributing negative behaviours to their dispositions (while excusing such behaviours by one's own group) Self-Presentation: Looking Good to Others • Self handicapping • Sometimes people sabotage their chances for success by creating impediments that make success less likely Ex. Being deliberately self destructive This occurs because in a situation where self-image is tied with performance, it can be more self-deflating to try hard and fail than to procrastinate and have a ready excuse If we fail while working under a handicap, we can cling to a sense of competence If we succeed under such conditions, it will only boost our self-image • Handicaps protect self-esteem and self image Allows us to attribute failures to something temporary or external rather than lack of talent or ability • Self-handicapping: Protecting one's self-image with behaviours that create a handy excuse for a later failure • Impression Management • Self-presentation: The act of expressing yourself and behaving in ways designed to create a favourable impression or an impression that corresponds to your ideals Wanting to present a desired image both to an external audience (other people) and to an internal audience (ourselves) Occurs without conscious effort • Self-monitoring: Being attuned to the way you present yourself in social situations and adjusting your performance to create the desired impression Explain examples of false modesty in which people put themselves down or publicly credit others when they privately credit themselves Lecture: (2) The Self and Identity Roy F. Baumeister Duality of Self The "I" (subjective consciousness) Active information processor The knower • The "Me" (object of consciousness) Self-concept The known Beliefs about self that result from treating oneself as an object of perception • Self-concept and Self-esteem Self-concept: Our thoughts about ourselves; cognitions, beliefs Personal identity: Physical attributes, beliefs, traits, abilities Social identity: Social groups, roles; family, race, gender, school, etc. Flexibility of self-concepts There is stability in our self views Also flexibility Working self-concept Depending on situation/environment, the self changes Ex. Work, school, family, etc. Context matters Context determines identity salience Social distinctiveness Minority identity often salient Ex. Physical race becomes more apparent/key distinct trait when a minority in a room Structure of self-concept (Linville, 1987) Self-complexity: Whether people think about themselves as having many distinct identities Assessed using a card-sorting task High complexity if; Many identities Little overlap across identities Helps bugger against adversity People with high self complexity are less likely to react emotionally Self-esteem: Our evaluation about ourselves Beliefs about own value/worth • Cultural differences in self concept • Individualist self Emphasis on the individual including rights, independence and differences from other individuals Strive for uniqueness • Collectivist self Emphasis on group and interrelatedness with others, including relationships, roles and duties Strive for social harmony • Functions of the Self • Executive function Self-regulation; allows planned behaviour Possible selves We can see ourselves in the future, plan present around future goals The Self and Ego Deprivation Ex.Avoiding socializing in order to study Self control as a limited resource Ex. Baumeister radish study Willpower is like a muscle; too much use causes deprivation But may be able to train/exercise willpower • Emotional function Determines emotional response Self-esteem Contrary to popular belief, not strongly related to: Academic performance Career success Better interpersonal relationships Physical health Possible reason for belief; people with high self esteem often see themselves as good students, workers, healthy, happy, etc. Is strongly related to: Happiness and well-being Beliefs about the world High self esteem people are often more optimistic • Organizational function Acts as schema to help us interpret and recall information about ourselves and the social world Self reference effect People remember new information better when they try to relate it to themselves In research studies; had participants read a list of words with various processing goals in mind • Self schemas • Generalizations about ourselves based on past experiences that serve to organize and guide processing of self related information • Schematics: People who possess a self schema for a particular dimension (e.g. independence) • Markus (1977) Participants were schematic for independence or dependence or were aschematic Based on extremity and importance of rating Adjectives indicating dependence (tolerant, conforming, obliging) and independence (independent, individualistic) • Schematics Recall more behavioural evidence Make more confident self-predictions Are more resistant to counter-schematic information Judge others more easily in terms of schematic dimensions How do we Learn about ourselves? • Through Social interaction • Symbolic Interactionism: Self is a reflection of the appraisals made by significant others (labeling, socialization, parenting, etc) • “The Looking Glass Self” (Cooley): The idea that we see ourselves through the eyes of other people and incorporate their perceptions of us into our self concept ReflectedAppraisals • Sometimes others actual views of us do impact our self views • College students changed their self views in line with roommates initial impressions • But this is a two way street • College students self concepts also affected roommates opinions of them • Are actual valuations or perceived evaluations more important? Private Audiences • Primed with a “private audience” asked to think about: 1. Older family members, or 2. Friends from campus • Then read a Cosmopolitan article about a sexually permissive woman • Rated their enjoyment of the story 1. Catholic and non Catholic women subliminally exposed to: Pope John Paul II looking disapproving Astranger looking disapproving 2. Read a sexually permissive passage 3. Rated their own self esteem 4. Those who saw the pope enjoyed the passage less Social Comparison • We also can come to know ourselves by comparing ourselves to other people • Social Comparison Theory – we learn about our attitudes and abilities by comparing them to those of other people • Learn whether our attitudes are normative • Learn our standing on ability dimension • When our performance level is unclear or ambiguous • No objective standard for appraisal • Comparing ourselves to people who are similar to us is most informative • Goal of accurate self-appraisal Social Comparison and Self Esteem • Social comparison can also affect how we feel about ourselves • Upward Comparison – comparisons made to someone better off than us • Downward Comparison – comparisons made to someone worse off than us • Referred to as Mr. Clean and Mr. Dirty study Participants were people believeing they were going to an interview for the lab for a job Other applicants would be there with a “Mr. Clean”, a confident well dressed man with the aims to discourage them Others were out with “Mr. Dirty”, the opposite, with opposite goals Role Models • Role Models – people who demonstrate outstanding abilities; “superstars” • Will they be motivating or discouraging? • Goal of self improvement • Is the achievement attainable? Self Enhancement • Goal of enhancing positive self views through social comparison • Seek downward, avoid upward • People can selectively seek downward comparisons • Diary Study • They can even invent worse off others • Cancer patients • When people were feeling bad, people would eek out downward social comparisons to feel better about themselves • • Need to Maintain Self Esteem • In general people seem motivated to: • Defend or protect their positive self views • Enhance their self views • People regularly behave in ways that will uphold their positive self views • E.g. downward comparisons; denigrating the comparison process itself SEM Theory (Self esteem Maintenance Theory) • The impact of social comparison depends on: • Directions of comparison • Psychological closeness of the other person • Importance or relevance of the domain • Basking in Reflected Glory (BiRGing) • When someone close outperforms us on a task that is not relevant to us (brother is famous guitar player, so its not that you’re jealous, because guitar is kind of irrelevant to your interest) Maintaining Self Esteem 1. Distance ourselves from the person • Biographies of famous male scientists 2. Disengage from the task or dimensions 3. Improve our performance relative to the other person • But what if we’re doing our best already? Tesser and Smith, 1980 • Password game – give your partner a clue to guess a word • Played the game the (1) a friend or (2) a stranger • Told a performance 91) does or (2) does not predict intelligence and leadership ability • Participants played first and did poorly • When told of the “prediction of intelligence and leadership” they would give difficult clues to their friends and easier ones to the stranger to undermine their success so to feel more superior BiRGing and Social Identity • We can also selectively identify with particular social groups • Distance them from failure • Bask in their glory after success • Monday morning after football game • School sweatshirts, hats, etc • “we won” but “ the team lost; they lost” Biases in Self Perception • Self serve attributions • People take credit for success; make internal attributions • Avoid blame for failures; make external attributions (circumstance “the exam was too hard”) • E.g. participants are presented a test, everyone gets 12/20 on the test • Good performance= ability • Poor performance= bad luck, circumstances • Positive Illusions 1. Unrealistic positive self views • “better-than-average” effect • Most people believe themselves to be “better than average” 2. Unrealistic Optimism • E.g. 71% of UCLA students expect anA 3. Exaggerated perceptions of control • Dice throws; lottery tickets Are Positive Illusions Adaptive? • Traditional view: psychological health depends on being “in touch with reality” • But positive illusions may contribute to: • Happiness and contentment • Satisfying relationships • Creative and productive work • If positive illusions are extreme, they may have negative consequences Cultural Differences in Self Enhancement • Self enhancement is not universal • Asians do not engage in self serving attribution (Kitayama et al.) • Attribute success to luck or effort, and failure to lack of ability or talent • Report lower self esteem overall • Show much less optimistic bias (Heine and Lehman) Reading 3: Social Cognition • How we perceive our social worlds • Perceive + recall events through the filters of our own assumptions • Judge events, informed by our intuition, by implicit rules that guide our snap judgments and by our moods • Explain events by sometimes attributing them to the situation, sometimes to the person • Expect certain events, and our expectation sometimes helps bring them about • Perceiving our social world • Priming Ex. Wearing headphones; concentrating on a sentence such as "We stood by the bank," in one ear and the either the word "river" or "money" in the other ear Don't consciously hear the word The word primes our interpretation of the sentence Priming:Activating particular associations in memory Experiments in priming reveal how one though (even without awareness) can influence another thought or action Ex. John Bargh (1996) Had participants complete sentences containing words such as "old," "wise," and "retired" People walked more slowly to the elevator than those that were not primed Slow walkers had no awareness of walking speed or words that primed aging Ex. Rob Holland (2005) Exposed Dutch students to scent of all-purpose cleaner; were quicker to identify cleaning-related words In follow up, students exposed to cleaning scent recalled more cleaning-related activities when describing their day's activities Even kept desks cleaner while eating a cookie Occurred without student's awareness of the scent and its influence Priming in everyday life: Watching a scary movie at home can prime our thinking, by activating emotions that, without our realizing it, cause us to interpret furnace noises as a possible intruder Depressed moods prime negative associations Shows that much of our social information processing is automatic • Perceiving and interpreting events When social information is subject to multiple interpretations, preconceptions matter Ex. Sports fans perceive referees as partial to the other side People's perceptions of bias can be used to assess their attitudes Experiments have manipulated preconceptions with effects on how people interpret and recall what they observe Ex. Myron Rothbart and Pamela Birrell (1977) Showed participants a picture of a man and told them to assess the facial expression Told one group that the man was a Gestapo leader responsible for barbaric medical experiments on concentration camp inmates during WWII; told the other group that he was a leader in the anti-Nazi underground movement whose courage saved thousands of Jewish lives Group one described his facial expression as "cruel" while group two judged his facial expression as warm and kind Occurs in movies Kulechov effect:Astrategy used by filmmakers to control people's perceptions of emotion by manipulating the setting in which they see a face Named after Russian film director who showed a neutral face after showing participants three scenes (dead woman, dish of soup and a girl playing) Audience felt sad during the first scene, thoughtful in the second and happy in the third Construal processes illustrate others' perceptions of us Spontaneous trait transference: When we say something good or bad about someone else, people will tend to associate that trait with us Ex. If we talk about someone being bad-minded, then the person may think we are bad- minded The same applies to speaking highly of people; if we describe someone as kind, loving and compassionate, we may seem kind, loving and compassionate Belief Perseverance Belief perseverance: Persistence of your initial conceptions, as when the basis for your belief is discredited but an explanation of why the belief might be true survives Ex. Lee Ross, Craig Anderson Planted a falsehood in people's minds then tried to discredit it Found that it is difficult to demolish a falsehood once a person conjures up a rationale for it First implanted a belief and showed anecdotal evidence Participants were then asked to explain why it is true Researchers then told participants that the belief was made up for the experiment New belief remained about 75% intact Thought to be because participants still retained their invented explanations for the belief Shows that beliefs can take on a life of their own and survive the discrediting of evidence that inspired them Experiments show that the more we examine theories and explain how they might be true, the more closed we become to information that challenges our beliefs We become prisoners of our own thought pattern "Two-thirds of what we see is behind our eyes" • Constructing memories of ourselves and our worlds • We construct our distant past by using our current feelings and expectations to combine fragments of information This allows us to easily (unconsciously) revise our memories to suit our current knowledge In its search for truth, the mind sometimes constructs a falsehood Ex. Experiment: When asked to describe a time that they fell, tripped, stuck their hand through a winder or knocked over a punch bowl at a wedding, about 1/4th later recalled fictitious events as something that actually happened Misinformation effect: Incorporating "misinformation" into one's memory of the event, after witnessing an event and then receiving misleading information about it Ex. Recall a yield sign as a stop sign, hammers as screwdrivers, etc. Suggested misinformation may even produce false memories of supposed child sexual abuse • Reconstructing past attitudes Researchers have found that people whose attitudes have changed often insist that they have always felt much as they now feel Ex. Daryl Bem and Keith McConnell (1970) Asked students opinion on student control over the university curriculum Then asked students to write an essay opposing student control When asked to recall how they had answered the question before writing the essay, they "remembered" holding the opinion that they wrote about and denied the experiment had affected them "It is all too common for caterpillars to become butterflies and then to maintain that in their youth they had been little butterflies. Maturation makes liars of us all." - George Vaillant (1977) Positive memories bright our recollection Rosy retrospection: To recall mildly pleasant events more favorably than they experienced them Ex. University students on an exchange to another country Reported to enjoy their experiences as they have them Later recalled such experiences more fondly, minimizing the unpleasant or boring aspects and remembering the high points With any positive experience, some of the pleasure resides in the anticipation, some in actual experience and some in the rosy retrospection Our memories are formed when we retrieve them Subject to strong influence by attitudes and feelings we hold at the time of retrieval • Reconstructing past behavior We all have "totalitarian egos" that revise the past to suit our present views Tend to under-report bad behavior and over-report good behavior • Judging our social worlds • Intuitive Judgments Priming research suggests that the unconscious does control much of our behavior The power of intuition Studies of our unconscious information processing confirm our limited access to what's going on in our minds Thinking is partly controlled, partly automatic Controlled processing: "Explicit" thinking that is deliberate, reflective and conscious Automatic processing: "Implicit" thinking that is effortless, habitual and without awareness; roughly corresponds to "intuition" Examples of automatic processing Schemas Intuitively guide our perceptions and interpretations of our experience Emotional reactions Often instantaneous, before there is time to deliberate thinking One neural shortcut takes information from eye/ear to brain's sensory switchboard (thalamus) and out to its emotional control centre (amygdala) before the thinking cortex has had any chance to intervene Sufficient expertise People may intuitively know the answer to a problem Ex. Without knowing how, we recognize a friend's voice after the first spoken word of a phone conversation Satisfying choice Faced with a decision but lacking the expertise to make an informed snap judgment, our unconscious thinking may guide us toward a satisfying choice Research found that, when making a thought decision, it often pays to take our time and await the intuitive result of our out-of-sight information processing Some things we remember explicitly (facts, names, past experiences), some things we remember implicitly (skills, conditioned dispositions) Ex. People with brain damage who cannot form new explicit memories One lady could not recognize her physician, who would need to introduce himself everyday with a handshake One day, the physician secured a tack to his hand, causing the patient to jump with pain When the physician returned the next day, he was still unrecognized (explicitly) but the patient (retaining an implicit memory) would not shake his hand Cases of blindsight (having lost a portion of the visual cortex to surgery or stroke, people may be functionally blind in part of their field of vision) Shown a series of sticks in the blind field; reported seeing nothing When asked to guess whether the sticks were vertical or horizontal, the patients got them all right Subliminal stimuli Pope example • Limits of Intuition No evidence suggests that commercial subliminal tapes can "reprogram your unconscious mind" for success Social psychologists have explored our capacity for illusion (perceptual misinterpretations, fantasies and constructed beliefs) Michael Gazzaniga (1992) Reported that patients whose brain hemispheres have been surgically separated will instantly fabricate (and believe) explanations of their own puzzling behavior Ex. If the patient gets up and takes a few steps after the experimenter flashes the instruction "walk" to the patient's nonverbal right hemisphere, the verbal left hemisphere will instantly provide the patient with a plausible explanation "I felt like getting a drink" • Overconfidence As we interpret our experiences and construct memories, our automatic intuitions sometimes err Hindsight bias extends to estimates of current knowledge and predictions of future behavior Overconfidence phenomenon: The tendency to be more confident than correct; to overestimate the accuracy of one's beliefs Incompetence feeds overconfidence Ex. Those that don't know what good logic or grammar is are often unaware that they lack it If you make a list of all the words you can form out of letters in "psychology," you may feel brilliant, but then stupid when a friend starts naming the ones you missed People often give too much weight to current intentions when predicting future behavior UW students predicted whether they would donate blood Relied heavily on their intention to do so Intention did not predict their actual donations Failed to notice how busy schedules, deadlines or simple forgetfulness would get in the way of donating What produces overconfidence? People tend to recall their mistaken judgments as times when they were almost right Confirmation bias Confirmation bias:Atendency to search for information that confirms one's preconceptions People often search for confirming data, opposed to trying to disconfirm their hunch Research discovered that students seek, elicit and recall feedback that confirms their beliefs about themselves Remedies for overconfidence Prompt feedback Ex. Weather forecasters and those who set the odds in horse racing both receive clear, daily feedback Experts in both groups do quite well at estimating their probable accuracy as a result Break into subcomponents Estimate time required for each component Doing so led to more realistic estimates of completion time Question why judgment might be wrong Force them to consider disconfirming information Ex. Managers might foster more realistic judgments by insisting that all proposals and recommendations include reasons why they might not work Realistic self-confidence is adaptive, but overconfidence can cost us • Heuristics: Mental Shortcuts With little time to process so much information, our cognitive system specializes in mental shortcuts With ease, we form impressions, make judgments, and invent explanations by using heuristics Heuristics:Athinking strategy that enables quick, efficient judgment Representativeness heuristic Representativeness heuristic: The tendency to presume, sometimes despite contrary odds, that someone or something belongs to a particular group if resembling (representing) a typical member Implicit rules of thumb Availability heuristic Availability heuristic:Acognitive rule that judges the likelihood of things in terms of their availability in memory If instances of something come readily to mind, we presume it to be commonplace Ex. Readers who are captivated by romance novels may gain readily available sexual scripts that influence their own sexual attitudes and behaviors Availability heuristic highlights a basic principle of social thinking; people are slow to deduce particular instances from a general truth, but are quick to infer general truth from a vivid instance Explains why anecdotes are often more compelling than statistical information and why perceived risk is often badly out of joint with real risks Ex.Although car crashes are the most common form of commuter injury, people are often more nervous about flying and tend to exaggerate the risk associated with plane travel Referred to as probability neglect: The worry about possibilities while ignoring higher probabilities Shows that our naïve statistical intuitions and resulting fear are often driven not by reason, but by emotions attuned to the availability heuristic • Counterfactual Thinking Counterfactual thinking: Imagining alternative scenarios and outcomes that might have happened, but didn't Ex. If our team wins a big game by one point, we can easily imagine how the game might have gone the other way and thus feel greater relief Imagining better alternatives and pondering what we might do differently next time, helps us prepare to do better in the future Ex. Olympic medalist Bronze medalists (who could easily imagine having won the gold) exhibited more joy than silver medalists (who could more easily imagine having won the gold) The more significant the event, the more intense the counterfactual thinking Ex. People who have lost a spouse/child to a car accident often report replaying and undoing the event Worldwide, most people live with less regret over things done than over things they failed to do such as be more serious in school, say goodbye to someone before they pass, etc. • Illusory Thinking Illusory correlation Illusory correlation: The perception of a relationship where none exists, or perception of a stronger relationship than actually exists Experiments confirm that people easily misperceive random events as confirming their beliefs If we believe a correlation exists, we are more likely to notice and recall confirming instances Seldom notice or remember all times unusual events did not coincide Ex.After we think about a friend, we notice and remember if they called shortly after We do not notice/remember all the times we think of a friend without an ensuing call Illusion of Control Illusion of control: Perception of uncontrollable events as subject to one's control or as more controllable than they are The idea that chance events are subject to our influence Ex. This is what keeps gamblers going and makes the rest of us do unlikely things Research found that being the person who throws the dice/spins the wheel, increases people's confidence Experiments have found people acting as if they can predict or control chance events Gamblers attribute wins to skill and foresight Attribute losses to a bad call, a "fluke" or a "near miss" Regression towards the average: The statistical tendency for extreme scores or extreme behavior to return toward the person's average Studies conclude that nature operates in ways that we often feel punished for rewarding others and rewarded for punishing others • Mood and Judgment Moods infuse judgments; "we are not cool computing machines, we are emotional creatures" Unhappy people tend to be more self-focused and brooding Depressed mood motivates intense thinking; a search for information that makes one's environment more understandable and controllable Happy people are more trusting, loving and responsive Moods pervade thinking as well When we are in a happy mood, the world seems friendlier, decisions are easier, good news more readily comes to mind When a mood turns gloomy, it primes our recollections of negative events Ex. Our relationships turn sour, our self-image takes a dive, our hopes for the future dim, other people's behavior seems more sinister • Explaining our Social Worlds • Attributing Causality: To the Person or the Situation? Misattribution: Mistakenly attributing a behavior to the wrong cause Ex. Men may overestimate the sexual significance of a woman's courtesy smile Attribution theory: The theory of how people explain their behavior for others Attributing behavior either to internal dispositions (enduring traits, motives, attitudes) or to external situations Dispositional attribution:Attributing behavior to the person's disposition and traits Situational attribution:Attributing behavior to environment Ex.Ateacher may wonder whether a child's underachievement is due to lack of motivation and ability (dispositional) or to physical and social circumstances (situational) Inferring Traits We often infer that other people's actions are indicative of their intentions and dispositions Ex. If Rick makes a sarcastic comment to Linda, I infer that Rick is a hostile person Edward Jones and Keith David (1965) Theory of correspondent inferences suggests that there are conditions under which attributions are most likely Ex. Normal or expected behavior tells us less about the person than does unusual behavior If Samantha is sarcastic in a job interview, where a person would normally be pleasant, this tells us more about Samantha than if she was sarcastic with her siblings Spontaneous trait inference:An effortless, automatic inference of a trait after exposure to someone's behavior Ex. Given 1/10th of a second exposure to someone's face, people will spontaneously infer some personality trait Commonsense attributions Harold Kelley (1973) described how we use information about "consistency," "distinctiveness," and "consensus" Consistency: Is Edgar usually able to get his computer to work? Distinctiveness: Does Edgar have trouble with other computers, or only this one? Consensus: Do other people have similar problems with this make of computer? If we learn that Edgar alone consistently has trouble with this and other computers, we likely will attribute the troubles to Edgar, not defects in this computer Kelley also found that people often discount a contributing cause of behavior if other plausible causes are already known Ex. If we can specify one or two reasons why a student might have done poorly on an exam, we may ignore or discount other possibilities • Fundamental Attribution Error • Fundamental attribution error: The tendency for observers to underestimate situational influences and overestimate dispositional influences on others' behavior Aka correspondence bias because we so often see behavior corresponding to a disposition • Why We Make Attribution Errors • Perspective and situational awareness An actor-observer difference We observe others from a different perspective than we observe ourselves When we act, the environment commands our attention; when we watch another person act, that person occupies the center of our attention and the situation becomes relatively invisible Bertram Malle (2006) Concluded that the actor-observer difference is often minimal When our action feels intentional and admirable, we attribute it to our own good reasons, not the situation It's only when we behave badly that we're more likely to attribute our behavior to the situation, while someone observing us may spontaneously infer a trait Camera perspective bias Depending on who is on camera, the angle, the lighting, etc. emotion can be conveyed and manipulated depending on the bias Ex. If camera is focused on suspect being interrogated, viewers often perceive the emotion as genuine; if focused on interrogator, emotion of suspect is considered it more coerced Perspectives change with time We regard our distant past selves almost as if they were other people occupying our body Ex.After hearing someone argue an assigned position, people assume that's how the person really felt When asked why a candidate won the election, people often attribute it to the candidates personal traits Self-awareness Self-awareness:Aself conscious state in which attention focuses on oneself Makes people more sensitive to their own attitudes and dispositions Ex. Seeing ourselves in a mirror, hearing our tape recorded voice, having our picture taken, etc. Attribute more responsibility to ourselves when we focus our attention on ourself People whose attention focus on themselves (either briefly during an experiment or because they are self-conscious people) attribute their behavior more to internal factors and less to the situation Point to reason for attribution error; we find causes where we look for them • Cultural Differences Western world view predisposes people to assume that people, not situations, cause events Internal explanations are more socially approved People in EasternAsian cultures are more sensitive to the importance of situations When aware of the social context, they are less inclined to assume that other's behaviour corresponds to their traits In collectivist cultures, people less often perceive others in terms of personal dispositions Negative behaviour (a man is rude to his colleague) Dispositional attribution (the man is a hostile person) --> unfavorable reaction (I don't like this man) Situational attribution (the man was given an unfair evaluation) --> sympathetic reaction (I can understand) •
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