Social psychology→ feelings, thoughts and behaviour of individuals in social situation.
Zimbardo Prison Study: Philip Zimbardo paid 24 Stanford university undergrad men to
be participants in a study of a simulated prison.
o Study finished in 6 days→ guards turned to verbal abuse, physical humiliation,
caused prisoners to wear plastic bags, and simulate sex acts.
o Some pal say that guards simply followed orders, but why did they choose to
follow such orders?
Power of the Situation:
Arendt: argued that Eichmann (Hitler’s architect to exterminate the Jews in Nazi-
occupied Europe) was not demented. He was boring, he served with a sense of duty.
o How does the situation that people find themselves in affect their behaviour?
Kurt Lewin: founder of modern social psychology→ was Jewish who fled Nazi Germany
in the 1930s. He believed that the behaviour of people (like objects) depends on the
forces of their situation.
o Person’s own attributes always interact with the situation to produce the resulting
o Other people can easily cause us to be kinder / meaner etc. They can produce
drastic changes in our beliefs and behaviour
o We rely on other people for clues about what emotions to feel in various
situations and even to define who we are as individuals.
o Volunteers (middle aged, laborers, professionals, 20yrs – 50s) arrived to the lab, a
man in white lab coat told them they would be participating in a study of the
effects of punishment on learning.
o There was a learner (fake one) and the teacher was one of the participants.
o The experimenter asked the teacher to give shocks to the learner if he failed to
remember certain words. The teacher had to give shocks in increments of 15 volts
(even up to 150 volts).
o 80% of participants continued past 150V level. 62.5% of participants went to
450V. Average voltage given was 360V.
o Why did participants still keep on giving shocks even though they know they
were causing other people pain?
The experiment was presented as a scientific investigation—caused the participants to
always obey the investigator no matter how harsh the procedure was.
Darley & Batson: asked students at the Princeton Theological Seminary about basis of
religious orientation to determine whether students were concerned with religion as
personal salvation or for its other moral and spiritual values. Then they were told to go to another building to deliver a short sermon – some were told they had plenty or time,
some were told they have to hurry.
Those who were not in a hurry were more likely to stop and help the sick person they
passed while walking towards the sermon.
People are thus governed by situational factors:
o Whether being pressured by someone or whether they are late
o The kind of person someone is has much less influence than most people assume
o Internal factors = dispositions
Beliefs, values, personality traits, or abilities.
o Fundamental attribution error:
Failure to recognize importance of situational influences on behaviour.
The tendency to overemphasize the importance of dispositions or traits.
o Channel factors: circumstances can sometimes guide behaviour in a very
particular direction by making it easier to follow one path rather than another.
o Eg. Most powerful determinant or usage of a particular service is the distance to
the closest facility (like if there’s a community centre close to me and one far
from me but better, I’d go to the one close to me)
Participant: someone who is acting freely
Learning: is a normal activity that depends on feedback.
Construal of situation and behaviour: often unconscious inferences
Gestalt Psychology: objects are perceived by active, unconscious interpretation of what
the object represents.
o Prisoner’s dilemma: a game, which showed how construal could operate to