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Social Psychology Exam 1 Notes.doc

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PSYC 2120
Jennifer Steele

Social Psychology Exam 1 Chapter 1 – Introducing Social Psychology What Is Social Psychology? • Social psychology is the scientific study of how people think about, influence, and relate to one another • Social thinking o How we perceive ourselves and others o What we believe o Judgments we make o Our attitudes • Social influence o Culture and biology o Pressures to conform o Persuasion o Groups of people • Social relations o Helping o Aggression o Attraction and intimacy o Prejudice • Focuses less on differences among individuals, more on how individuals view and affect one another • An environmental science; it reveals how the social environment influences behaviour Major Themes in Social Psychology • Social thinking o We construct our social reality o Our social intuitions are powerful, sometimes perilous (dangerous) • Social influences o Social influences shape behaviour o Dispositions shape behaviour • Social relations o Social behaviour is also biological behaviour o Relating to others is a basic need • Applying social psychology o Social psychology’s principles are applicable to everyday life The central themes of social psychology concern the following • How we construe our social worlds • How our social intuitions guide and sometimes deceive us • How our social behaviour is shaped by other people, by our attitudes and personality, and by our biology 1 • How social psychology’s principles apply to our everyday lives Social Psychology and Human Values Obvious ways in which values enter social psychology • Values differ across cultures • Values also influence the types of people attracted to various disciplines • Values enter the picture as the object of social-psychological analysis. Psychologists investigate how values form, why they change, and how they influence attitudes and actions Not-so-obvious ways in which values enter social psychology • Science is not purely objective • Tendency to prejudge reality based on our expectations is a basic fact about the human mind • Scholars who come from similar cultures often share a common viewpoint and their assumptions may go unchallenged • 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 • Psychologists define things as if they are fact, when they are value judgments i.e. mature vs. immature, mentally healthy or mentally ill. • Naturalistic fallacy – the error of defining what is good in terms of what is observable: for example, what’s typical is normal; what’s normal is good. o If most people don’t do something, that does not make it wrong, if most people do it, it is not right • Values lie hidden within our cultural definitions of mental health • Beliefs and values influences what social psychologists think and write • This penetration of values into science is not a reason to fault social psychology or any other science. That human thinking is seldom dispassionate is precisely why we need systematic observation and experimentation if we are to check our cherished ideas against reality I Knew It All Along • Does social psychology simply formalize what any amateur already knows intuitively? • Hindsight bias – the tendency to exaggerate, after learning an outcome, one’s ability to have foreseen how something turned out. Also known as the I-knew-it- all-along phenomenon o Think you already knew something once it is presented to you Research Methods 2 • Theory – an integrated set of principles that explain and predict observed events • Imply testable predictions – hypotheses • Operationalization – process of deciding on our observations, how science puts it theories to test • A good theory effectively summarizes many observations, and makes clear predictions that we can use to confirm or modify the theory, generate new exploration, and suggest practical applications Correlational Research: Detecting natural associations • Correlational research – the study of the naturally occurring relationships among variables • Experimental research – studies that seek clues to cause-effect relationships by manipulating one or more factor while controlling other • Field research – research done in natural real-life settings outside the laboratory • Correlation – could be related to a third factor, therefore not a causation relationship Survey Research • Random sample – survey procedure in which every person in the population being studied has an equal chance of inclusion Random Assignment • 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 • Average about the same in factors that may affect results, i.e. age, sex, intelligence, education • Random assignment helps us infer cause and effect. Random sampling helps us generalize to a population The 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 • Mundane not as important as experimental • Demand characteristics – cues in an experiment that tell the participant what behaviour is expect • Informed consent – an ethical principle requiring that research participants be told enough to enable them to choose whether they wish to participate Chapter 2 – The Self in a Social World Self-concept: Who am I? • Self-concept – a person’s answers to the question, “Who am I?” 3 • Self-schema – beliefs about self that organize and guide the processing of self- relevant information • Schemas are mental templates by which we organize our worlds • Self schemas could be our perceiving ourselves as athletic, intelligent, overweight, smart • Powerfully affect how we perceive, remember, and evaluate other people and ourselves • If athletics is central to your self-concept (being an athlete is one of your self schemas), then you will tend to notice others’ bodies and skills • Self-schemas that make up our self-concepts help us organize and retrieve our experiences Possible Selves • Self-concepts include not only self schemas about who we currently are, but also who we might become – our possible selves • Possible selves- images of what we dream of or dread becoming in the future • Possible selves motivate us with a vision of the life we long for, and the life we hope to avoid Development of the social self • Both genetics and social experience also plays a part. Influences such as our social identity, the comparisons we make with others, our successes and failures, how other people judge us, the surrounding culture 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. Examples: I am Australian, I am catholic • Race, religion, sex, academic major, and so forth, also implies a definition of who you are not • Part of a small group surrounded by a larger group, we are often conscious of our social identity, when our social group is the majority we think less about it Social comparisons • Self is also shaped by how we compare ourselves to others • Lockwood and Kunda study, first year students compared to exceptional student and fourth year students compared to exceptional students. Viewed themselves differently, first years felt good and had hope, fourth year knew they would never measure up to superstar student • Social comparison – evaluating your abilities and opinions by comparing yourself to others • Using others as a benchmark by which we can evaluate our performance and our beliefs Success and failure 4 • Self-concept fed by our daily experiences • Generic statements (I am a lovable person) can make people with high self esteem feel better but those with low self esteem, those who needed the boost, feel worse • Hard earned achievements best way to increase self-concept • Problems and failures can cause low self-esteem Other people’s judgments • When people judge us positively, helps us think well of ourselves • Children labelled as gifted, hardworking, or helpful tend to incorporate such ideas into their self-concepts and behaviour • Self-esteem depends on whether or not we believe we have traits that make us attractive to others, and not necessarily on the traits that we say we value most Self and culture • In Western cultures, individualism prevails • 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 • Most cultures native to Asia, Africa, and Central and South America place a greater value on collectivism • Collectivism – giving priority to the goals of one’s group and defining one’s identity accordingly • Interdependent self – construing one’s identity in relation to others • Even in languages, these cultures say “I” less often. Went to the movie, rather than I went to the movie Culture and cognition • Asians see relationships between objects more often, Americans attend more to a single focal object. Asians focus on grand scheme • Independent self acknowledges relationships with others, the interdependent self is more deeply embedded in others. Interdependent may have a different self with mother, father, friends, brother, teacher Culture and self-esteem • Self-esteem in collectivist cultures correlates closely with “what others think of me and my group” • Individualistic cultures, self-esteem is more personal and less relational, care less when someone threatens collective identity 5 Self-Knowledge • Sometimes can understand our behaviour, sometimes we don’t • How much insight do we really have into what makes us happy or unhappy? Not much. We are remarkably bad predictors of what will make us happy Predicting behaviour • People err when predicting their behaviour • Example, people in couples tend to be bad at predicting the longevity of their relationships. • Family and friends often better predictors • Planning fallacy – the tendency to underestimate how long it will take to complete a task Predicting feelings • We want. We get. We are happy. – not the case, often miswant • Impact bias – overestimating the enduring impact of emotion-causing events • Faster than we expect, the emotional traces of such good tidings evaporate • Also prone to impact bias after negative events. Some professors get tenure, others do not, but both are equally as happy 5 years later • People make ill advised decisions and investments based on how happy they think it will make them • Immune neglect – the human tendency to underestimate the speed and the strength of the “psychological immune system” which enables emotional recovery and resilience after bad things happen The wisdom and illusions of self-analysis • Timothy Wilson: The mental processes that control our social behaviour are distinct from the mental processes through which we explain our behaviour • Rational explanations omit the unconscious attitudes that actually guide our behaviour • Strangers to ourselves 6 • Dual attitudes: 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 • Implicit actions are usually habit, slow to change Self-Esteem: How Am I? • Self-esteem – a person’s overall self-evaluation or sense of self-worth • High self esteem when we feel good about domains (looks, smarts, etc.) important to self-esteem • Goes both ways, people who value themselves in a general way – those with high self esteem – are more likely to value their looks, abilities, and so forth. • Self-perceptions do have some influence. If you think you are good at math, you will be more likely to do well at math • Praise is better when it is specific then general, feedback is best when it is true and specific Self-esteem motivation • Tesser: Believed the threat to self-esteem was greatest for an older child with a highly capable younger sibling • Threats occur among friends whose success can be more threatening that that of strangers (Zuckerman & Jost) • People react positively to success of romantic partners, consider it a part of “who I am” • Self-esteem gauge – alerts us. Pain can motivate action, self-improvement and a search for acceptance and inclusion else where when we feel inadequate The “Dark Side” of Self-Esteem (Baumeister) • Low self-esteem predicts increased risk of depression, drug abuse, and some forms of delinquency • Even high levels of success can hurt self-esteem, worry about disappointing others on the next occasion • Teen males who engage in sexual activity at too young an age, teen gang leaders, terrorists, all have high self-esteem • Combination of narcissism and high self-esteem leads to aggressiveness • Baumeister claims self-control is worth 10 times as much as self-esteem • When feeling bad, low-self esteem people take a negative view of everything • Christian Jordan suggested self-esteem comes in two forms, explicit (consciously controlled) and implicit (automatic or intuitive) The Self in Action Self-Control • Effortful self-control drains our limited willpower reserves, brain consumes available blood sugar when engaged in self-control 7 Learned Helplessness versus Self-Determination • Learned helplessness – the hopelessness and resignation learned when a human or animal perceives no control over repeated bad events • Uncontrollable bad events  perceived lack of control  learned helplessness • Depressed people become passive because they believe their efforts have no effect • At the same time if you train your self-control and develop self discipline in one area of your life, it may spill over into other areas as well • People who believe in their own competence and effectiveness cope better and achieve more than those who have learned a helpless, pessimistic outlook • Our ability to effortfully regulate our behaviour, or willpower, works similarly to muscular strength. Can be exhausted and also strengthened Self-Serving Bias: Seeing the Self Positively • In studies of self-esteem, even low-scoring people respond in the mid-range of possible scores. Good reputation with ourselves • Self-serving bias – the tendency to perceive yourself favourably Evaluating the Self • Self-serving bias is cognitive and motivated Explanations for positive and negative events • People attribute success to their ability and effort, but attribute failure to such external factors as bad luck • Situations that combine skill and chance are especially prone to the phenomenon • Self-serving attributions – a form of self-serving bias; the tendency to attribute positive outcomes to yourself and negative outcomes to other factors Can we all be better than average? • Self-serving bias also appears when people compare themselves with others • Most people see themselves as better than the average person • In subjective qualities, we create our own definitions to benefit ourselves. i.e. athletic ability, one could think they are good golfer now but don’t consider how bad they were in little league Unrealistic optimism • More optimists than pessimists • Unrealistic optimism about future life events (Weinstein) • Students perceive themselves as far more likely than their classmates to get a good job, good salary, own a home and far less likely to experience negative events False consensus and uniqueness 8 • False consensus effect – the tendency to overestimate the commonality of one’s opinions and one’s undesirable or unsuccessful behaviours • May occur because we generalize from a limited sample, which includes ourselves • False uniqueness effect – the tendency to underestimate the commonality of one’s abilities and one’s desirable or successful behaviours • We see our talents and positive behaviours as relatively unusual, not the normal, we are above average • Those who drink heavily but use seat belts overestimate (false consensus) the number of heavy drinkers and underestimate (false uniqueness) the commonality of seat belt use • We see our failings as normal, our virtues as exceptional Temporal Comparison • Temporal comparison – a comparison 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 • Comparing ourselves to our past and future self to put the current self in a positive light • Rate our selves as improving over time (Wilson & Ross 2001) • Also compared current rating, past rating, and current rating from the past to prove this phenomenon • People remember themselves as being much worse, sense of improvement was more illusion • High self-esteem people are more self-enhancing • Glory days feel like yesterday, while our defeats and transgressions feel like ancient history Explaining Self-Serving Bias 9 Reflections on Self-Esteem and Self-Serving Bias The self-serving bias as adaptive • Bright side of self-esteem • When good things happen, high-self esteem people tend to savour and sustain the good feelings compared to low self-esteem • Self-serving bias and its accompanying excuses help protect people from depression. Imagine that self-serving bias was opposite and made us look at everything negatively. • Self-serving bias additionally helps buffer stress. Those with self-enhancing tendencies were most resilient • Buffers anxiety. Feeling good and secure protects us from feeling terror over our eventual death The self-serving bias as maladaptive • People who blame others for their social difficulties are often unhappier than people who can acknowledge their mistakes • In groups people attribute success to themselves, failures to other members • Group-serving bias – explaining away out-group members’ positive behaviours; also attributing negative behaviours to their dispositions (while excusing such behaviour by one’s own group) • Same as self-serving bias but for groups. Self-Presentation: Looking Good To Others False modesty - false modesty, in which people put themselves down, extol future competitors, or publicly credit others when privately they credit themselves. Self-handicapping – protecting one’s self image with behaviours that create a handy excuse for later failure (partying instead of studying, giving an opponent an advantage) 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 • Desired image to both an external audience and to an internal audience (ourselves) • Self-monitoring – being attuned to the way you present yourself in social situations and adjusting your performance to create the desired impression • Continually noting and altering your behaviour for your surrounding • Low scores in self-monitoring usually people who don’t care about what others think, but can seem insensitive 10 Chapter 3 – Social Beliefs and Judgments Perceiving Our Social Worlds Priming • Priming – activating particular associations in memory • “We stood by the bank” and river or money is whispered in your other ear. Primes your interpretation of the sentence • Memory system is a web of associations, priming is the awakening or activating of certain associations • Watching a scary movie at home alone can prime our thinking, reading about psychological disorders can prime moods Perceiving and Interpreting Events • First impressions more often right than wrong, the better
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