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Chapter 1

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PSYC 215
John Lydon

Social Psychology Chapter 1 Book Notes Intro to Social Psychology Important people/concepts are bolded & definitions are underlined  Social psychology: the study of feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of individuals in social situations  Seeks to explain human behavior; used in Brown v. Board of Ed. Case o Attitudes toward African Americans have changed drastically in the past few decades Explaining Behavior  Reaction to ’60 Minutes’ video at Abu Gharib showing American soldiers’ mistreating of Iraqis can be explained by social psychologists  Zimbardo Studies: Stanford students paid to simulate prison situation; “guards” and “prisoners” who were randomly assigned got caught up in their fake roles and the study had to be stopped after 6 days because prisoners were suffering from extreme stress from different forms of torture inflicted upon them by the guards o Zimbardo believed that, “We didn’t put bad apples in a good barrel, but good apples in a bad barrel. The barrel corrupts anything it touches.” Comparing Social Psychology to Related Disciplines:  Social Psychology vs. Personality Psychology: personality stresses individual differences rather than the social situation; personality psychologists try to find patterns in an individual across a variety of situations  Social Psychology vs. Cognitive Psychology: social psychologists study social behavior and perceptions of others vs. cognitive psychologists who study perception, thought, and memory processes  Social Psychology vs. Sociology: sociology is the study of people in the aggregate i.e. social groups or institutions The Power of the Situation  Hannah Ardent argued that Nazis were not all to blame, but were partly parts of a greater machine, under the influence of someone overpowering and argued for Nazi Adolf Eichmann  Controversial because it suggested that everyone is capable of brutal acts under powerful enough coercion o Could explain Zimbardo studies and acts at Abu Gharib  How does the situation that people find themselves in affect their behavior?  Kurt Lewin: founder of modern social psychology; also fled Nazi Germany and used aspects of physics in social psychology to explain how people’s behavior is a result of their surroundings  Milgram Studies: studied how far people would go administering increasingly strong and eventually lethal shocks to strangers for the sake of scientific research  Darley and Batson Study: tested whether self proclaimed Seminarians would act as good Samaritans in a hurry vs. not in a hurry  The Fundamental Attribution Error: coined by Lee Ross, most people underestimate the power of external factors and assume that the causes of behavior come from the inside, or other peoples’ dispositions (internal factors); the failure to recognize the importance of situational factors and overemphasis on traits of disposition  Channel factors: introduced by Lewin, situational circumstances that may seem unimportant but can have great consequences on behavior, facilitating or blocking it or guiding it in a certain direction  Leventhal Study: tried to motivate Yale students to take preventative health measures in a variety of ways; people given map with campus health center circled on it were more likely to go o Found that the most powerful determinant of usage of public health facilities is distance to the closest facility Construals  Construal: our interpretation and inference about stimuli or a situation  Gestalt Psychology: objects are not perceived by means of passive/automatic registering, but by active, conscious interpretation of what the object represents  Prisoner’s dilemma: payoffs offered to criminals who were caught together and questioned separately; could “cooperate or “defect” (Liberman, Ross, & Samuels) o They also did a study with Stanford students identified as cooperative or competitive; “Wall Street Game” vs. “Community Game” and asked them to divide money between them and another student  Schemas: a knowledge structure of any organized body of stored information  Solomon Asch: German founder of social psychology who showed that schemas can subtly influence judgments  Stereotypes: we judge people based on schemas we have for things we associate with them Automatic vs Controlled Processing  Patricia Devine: did research on how automatic and controlled processing can result in incompatible attitudes towards members of outgroups o The judgments of unprejudiced people were shown to be prejudiced when studied by a technique that examines unconscious processing of information o White people rated white faces with pleasant stimuli faster than with black faces (Gree
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