PSYC 215 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Parental Investment, Seminary, Stanley Milgram

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9 Dec 2012
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Chapter One
An Invitation to Social Psych
Characterizing Social Psychology
Social Psychology – the scientific study of the feelings, thoughts, anf behaviors of
individuals in social situations
Explaining Behavior
Stanford University Experiment
24 undergraduate men, chosen for their good character and mental health
study of a simulated prison
coin flip determined “guard” vs “prisoner”
study anticipated to last two weeks
in fact, “guards” quickly turned to physical humiliation and verbal abuse
terminated after six days
Brown vs. Board of Education
ruling that ended segregation in schools in the United States
drew heavily on social psychological research
indicated segregated school were inherently unequal in their efforts/effects and
therefore unconstitutional
Comparing Social Psychology with Related Disciplines
Personality Psychology
stresses individual differences in behavior rather than the social situation
personality psychologists try to find a consistent pattern in the way an individual
behaves across situations
Cognitive Psychology
study of how people perceive, think about, and remember aspects of the world
many psychologists call themselves cognitive social psychologists
Sociology
study of people in the aggregate
study institutions, subgroups, bureaucracies, mass movements, and changes in the
demographic characteristics of populations
sometimes do sociological work themselves, though they are likely to bring an interest to
individual behavior to the study of aggregates
The Power of the Situation
Hannah Arendt, 1963
Eichmann in Jerusalem
described the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the architect of Hitler's plan to exterminate
Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe
Eichmann was little more than a “bureaucrat doing his job”
not the demented, sadistic personality that everyone supposed
“banality of evil”
Kurt Lewin, 1930s
physicist turned psychologist
applied an idea from physics to an understanding of psychological existence
behavior of people (like the behavior of objects) is always a function of the field
of forces (psychological and physical) in which they find themselves
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social equivalent is: the role of the situation
we rely on others for clues about what emotions to feel in various situations and
even to define who we are as individuals
The Milgram Experiment
Stanley Milgram, 1963
experiment on social influence
advertised in the local newspaper for men to participate in a study on learning and
memory
mix of laborers, middle class, and professionals
range in age from 20s-50s
told they would be participating in the “effects of punishment on learning”
“Teacher”
was to administer shocks in 15-volt magnitudes
given a 45-volt shock to have an idea of how painful the shocks would be
dial was labelled
e.g. “slight shock”, “Danger: Extreme Shock”, “XXX”
“Learner”
pleasant looking
learner tries to memorize word pairs such as wild/duck
accomplice of the experimenter, drawing was rigged so he was always the learner
not actually being shocked
most participants became concerned as shock levels increased, but complied once the
experimenter prompted them to continue
80% of participants continued past the 150-volt level
at which pt, the learner mentions he has a heart condition and screams “let me out of
here!”
62.5% of participants went all the way to the 450
average shock administered was 360 volts
after learner let out an agonizing scream and became hysterical
none of the experimenters expected the participants to continue to administer shocks
as long as they did
the situation is extraordinarily effective in getting people to do something that would
normally fill them with horror
scientific experiment (unfamiliar to most people)
experimenter explicitly took responsibility for what happened
most participants could not have guessed that outset what the experiment involved
not prepared to resist anyone's demands
STEP-by-STEP nature of the method was crucial
Seminarians as Samaritans
J. Darley and D. Batson, 1973
Princeton Theological Seminary
asked participants about the nature of their religious orientation
whether they were particularly concerned with religion as a means towards
personal salvation or more concerned with religion for its other moral and
spiritual values
then, they were told to go to another building for another interview
half were told they had plenty of time to arrive; the other half was told they were
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running late for the interview
on the way, they each pass a man sitting in a doorway, coughing and groaning; in
apparent need of help
regardless of the fact that each was a practicing seminarian, whether or not they
were in a hurry was a powerful predictor in whether or not they stopped to help the
old man
The Fundamental Attribution Error
most people underestimate the power of the external forces that operate on an individual and
tend to assume, often mistakenly, that causes of behavior can be mostly found in the person
dispositions – internal factors such as beliefs, values, personality traits, or abilities that
guide a person's behavior
Fundamental Attribution Error – the failure to recognize the importance of situational
influences on behavior, and the corresponding tendency to overemphasize the importance of
dispositions or traits on behavior
social psych encourages us to look for situational factors (the other person's situation) that
might be affecting someone's behavior, to fully understand it
Channel Factors
channel factors - certain situational circumstances that appear unimportant on the surface
but that can have great consequence to behavior
either facilitating, blocking or guiding behavior (by making it easier to follow one path
than another) in a particular direction
H. Levanthal, 1965
how to motivate people to take advantage of the health facilities' offering of preventative
care
had participants read scary material on the number of ways one could get tetanus; as
well as a person in the late stages of lockjaw
students could avoid this fate by simply heading to the health center anytime to get a
free inoculation
Control: simply given the presentation
most participants formed the intention of getting an inoculations
only 3% did so
2nd Group: given a map with the health center circled
asked to review their weekly schedule and decide on a convenient time to
visit the center and the route they would take to get there
28% of these students received the inoculation
channel factor: shaping a vague intention into a concrete plan
The Role of Construal
construal – people's interpretation and inference (often unconscious) about the stimuli or
situations they confront
Interpreting Reality
our perceptions normally bear a resemblance to what the world is really like, but perception
requires substantial interpretation on our part and is subject to significant error under certain
conditions
Gestalt Principles/psychology – based on the German word “gestalt” meaning
“form/figure”
mostly having to do with visual perception
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