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Chapter 1

PSYC 215 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Stanford Prison Experiment, Kurt Lewin, Cognitive Psychology

Course Code
PSYC 215
Mark Baldwin

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Social Psychology Chapter 1 An Invitation to Social Psychology
Homosexuality was considered a mental illness - then illegal - then tolerance in one
generation - social norms and individual psychology
Social psychology: scientific study of the feelings, thoughts and behaviours of
individuals in social situations, how people make sense of their world?
Study explaining behaviour: Zimbardo Stanford prison experiment
o 24 male undergraduate students with good character and mental health to
participate in stimulated prison
o Terminated after 6 days instead of 2 weeks because too stressful for
o People took on their roles seriously and started bullying the prisoners
o Balance of power so unequal in prison, brutal places
Social psychology now takes place in court and influence government policy:
terminated school segregation in US
Related disciplines
Personality psychology: individual differences across situations VS Social
psychology: differences between situations
Cognitive psychology: how people perceive, think, remember, categorization
processes and memory for words or objects VS Social psychology: social
behaviour and perceptions of other people
Sociology: behaviour of people in the aggregate, the population and demographic
changes, institutions, subgroups, bureaucracies, mass movements VS Social
psychology: individual behaviour
Situational influence - how does the situation people find themselves in affect their
Kurt Lewin founder of social psychology
Milgram experiement: male and female tested later separately and collected same
o Pretend to study punishment on learning and memory at Yale University,
punishment on
o Participants from different backgrounds and ages
o Confederate was the learner, to be shocked if made a mistake from 15 to
450 volts
o 80% passed 150 volts even when learner claimed to have heart disease
o 62.5% went up to 450 volts
o Average of 360 volts
o Estimated only 20% would pass 150 volts and 1% would go to 330 volts
o Similar as Hitler, experimenter took responsibility
Darley and Batson test the power of the situation
o Ask participants about basis of religious orientation: personal salvation or
moral spiritual values
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o Ask to go to another building: given the route (control condition) VS told
they had plenty of time VS they were late
o Passed by a man in need and see if they would help or not
o Nature of orientation had no use, depended if they were in a rush or not:
rushed helped less, not rushed helped more
Fundamental attribution error: failure to recognize the importance of situational
influence on behaviour with tendency to overemphasize the importance of dispositions
Dispositions: internal factors, beliefs, values, personality traits, ability to guide
behaviour - not always underlying behaviour
Channel factors: shape a vague intention to concrete plan (will increase the likelihood to
do it)
Situational circumstances that appear unimportant on surface can guide behaviour
in particular direction: facilitate it or block it
Behavioural economics
o To encourage participation in retirement plan: instead of opting for it,
make it automatic (easy channel) need to check if do not want to
o Creates more participation and happier retirement
Leventhal study: how to motivate people to take advantage of health facilities
o Scared students to insist them on getting tetanus inoculation
o Interviewed the students: most formed the intention to go but only 3%
actually did
o Other participants were given map and showed the route to the health
center and increased the rate of inoculation to 28%
Construal: interpretation of or inference of situations and behaviours we make often
unconsciously - how we see people as will affect our perceptions on their actions
Gestalt psychology: objects (figures and forms) are perceived not by the means of
some passive and automatic registering device but by active, usually
nonconscious interpretation of what the object represent
o Naive realism: the belief we have that we see the world directly without
any complicated perceptual or cognitive machinery doctoring the data
Milgram experiment: the participant is someone who is acting freely, learning is a
normal activity that often depends on feedback
Schemas: stored knowledge to understand situations and know how to act - generalized
knowledge about physical and social world
Knowledge structures, summarize commonly encountered situations, describe
different types of people
o Stereotypes: schemas of people of a certain kind, belief that certain
attributes are characteristic of member of a particular ethnic group
Asch experiment on how schemas can subtly influence judgments
o Undergraduate students to rank profession prestige
o Manipulate group one: told participants their peer ranked "politicians" as
high prestige
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