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Social Psychology 1 Social psychology. Study of how people influence others’ behaviour, beliefs and attitudes. Social comparison theory. We seek to evaluate our abilities and beliefs by comparing them with those of others. Mass hysteria. Outbreak of irrational behaviour that is spread by social contagion. Social facilitation. Enhancement in performance brought about by the presence of others. Conformity. Tendency of people to alter their behaviour as a result of group pressure. Deindividuation. Tendency of people to engage in uncharacteristic behaviour when they are stripped of their usual identities. Groupthink. Emphasis on group unanimity at the expense of critical thinking. Group polarisation. Tendency of group discussion to strengthen the dominant positions held by individual group members. Cult. Group of individuals who exhibit intense and unquestioning devotion to a single cause. Inoculation effect. Approach to convincing people to change their minds about something by first introducing reasons why the perspective might be correct and then debunking them. Obedience. Adherence to instructions from those of higher authority. What is social psychology - Study of how people influence other’s behaviour, beliefs and attitudes. - Helps us understand why we sometimes act helpfully in the presence of others, and why we occasionally show our worst sides. - Sheds light on why we’re prone to accept blindly irrational, even pseudoscientific beliefs. - Social influence is relevant to everyone. - Humans as a social species: o Gravitating to each other:  150 – approx. size of most human social groups.  Our highly social brains are predisposed to forming intimate interpersonal networks that are large. o Why we form groups – the need to belong:  Have a biologically based need for interpersonal connections.  Seek out social bonds when we can and suffer negative psychological and physical consequences when we can’t.  Threat of social isolation can lead us to behave in self- destructive ways and even impair our mental functioning. o How we came to be this way – evolution and social behaviour.  Core premise: Social influences serve us well most of the time, but can occasionally backfire if we’re not careful.  Conformity, obedience and many other forms of social influence become maladaptive only when they’re blind or unquestioning.  When we accept social influence without evaluating it critically, we place ourselves at the mercy of powerful others e.g. Nazi regime. o Social comparison:  Social comparison theory.  Helps us understand our self and our social world better.  Upward social comparison – compare ourselves with people who seem superior to us in some way.  Downward social comparison – compare ourselves with others who seem inferior. o Social contagion:  Look at others when a situation is ambiguous to figure out what to believe. Demonstrations:  Mass hysteria:  Contagious outbreak of irrational behaviour that spreads fast.  Prone to collective delusions – many people simultaneously come to be convinced of bizarre things that are false e.g. UFO sightings.  Urban legends:  False stories that are repeated so many times that people believe them to be true. o Social facilitation:  Presence of others can enhance our performance in certain situations.  Occurs only on tasks we find easy.  Social disruption – worsening performance in the presence of others. Social influence: conformity and obedience - Conformity. o The Asch Studies:  Participants aske
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