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Chapter 4

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PSYC 215
Michael Sullivan

Textbook Chapter 4: Choices and Actions: The Self in Control What You Do and What it Means  Many of the principles that apply to animal behaviour also apply to human behaviour. But to explain human behaviour, one needs mire, and one especially needs meaning.  The importance of ideas- what you do depends partly on what it means- reflects the broad theme that inner processes serve interpersonal functions. Meaning requires language, which is learned through culture. Thinking enables people to make use of meaning. o One of the basic functions of thought it doing things mentally before physically. Thinking is doing (William James).  Making Choices  The progress of culture offers us more and more choices  Two Steps of Choosing: o Most people handle choosing in two steps: the first step involves whittling the full range of choices down to a limited few and the second step involves more careful comparison of the highlighted options.  Influences on Choice: o Major patterns that guide people’s choices:  Risk Aversion: people are more affected by possible losses than possible gains.  Temporal Discounting: what happens right now weighs more heavily than what might happen in the future.  The certainty effect: people tend to place undue weight on things that are certain (eg: the colour of the car, instead of if it would protect you in the event of a crash).  Keeping options open: some people prefer to postpone hard decisions and keep their options open.  When choosing between two options, people tend to focus on quantitative differences. But qualitative features are what you will live with from then on.  Error management theory: both men and women make decisions so as to minimize the most costly type of error, but men’s worst error is not the same as women’s.  Why people don’t choose  Status Quo Bias: preference to keep things the way they are instead of change.  Omission Bias: taking whichever course of action does not require you to do anything (aka the default option).  A general theme behind decision avoidance is anticipated regret.  Sometimes people don’t make choices because it is too difficult (modern life has too many options). But sometimes people will also not choose to buy something if there are not enough options.  Two reasons for failing to make a selection from a group of options: none of the options seem good enough, or it is hard to tell which one is the best. o As there are more options, it is less likely that one is not good enough, but it also harder to tell which is the best.  Reactance: o The interest in preserving options is the core of an important psychological theory that has held up well over several decades: Reactance Theory (Brehm). People prefer to have freedom of choice and therefore have a negative, aversive reaction to having some of their choices or options taken away by other people or by external forces. o Reactance produces three main consequences: it makes you want the forbidden option more, it may make you try to take steps to try to reclaim the lost option, or you may feel/act aggressively against the person who has restricted your freedom  Choice and Change  Understanding choice and decision making is a vital part of any effort to understand human life.  Entity theorists: people who regard traits as fixed, stable things (entities). Tend to regard other people’s behaviour as reflecting their traits.  Incremental theorists: who believe that traits are subject to change and improvement. Interpret behaviour as caused by temporary states and external factors. o Entity theorists could develop learned helplessness because they think that failures are more drastic because they are permanent features of themselves. QUIZ: 1. Suppose you show up for a paid experiment and receive $10. The researcher says you can double your earnings if the outcome of a coin toss is a head, or lose your earnings if the outcome of a coin toss is a tail. Research shows that most people would _____. a. Flip the coin and try to get $20 b. Not flip the coin and keep their $10 c. There is a 50/50 chance that people will flip the coin because the potential gain equals the potential loss. d. The research evidence is mixed 2. Mohammed is 4 years old. His mother, a social psychologist, asks whether he would rather have one cookie today or three cookies tomorrow. Mohammed chooses the one cookie today. This illustrates _____. a. Certainty effect b. Risk aversion c. Planning fallacy d. Temporal discounting 3. Joni wants to see an R-rated movie with some friends. However, Joni is only 14, and her parents forbid her to go. Which of the following responses could be predicted from Brehm’s reactance theory? a. Joni would behave aggressively towards per parents b. Joni would want to see the movie more c. Joni would sneak into the movie anyway d. All of the above 4. Entity theorists are to incremental theorists as _____ are to ____. a. Global traits; specific traits b. Specific traits; global traits c. Stable traits; unstable traits d. Unstable traits; stable traits Freedom of Action Many believe that psychology must explain all behaviour in terms of causes, and if a behaviour is caused, then it is not truly or fully free. Others emphasize the fact that people make choices and could have been chosen differently under other circumstances, and in that sense they believe people do have freedom. The belief in free will helps humans to act in more prosocial ways, thereby helping the social system function better.  More or Less Free  Although absolute freedom is debatable, relative freedom is an important feature of social behaviour.  Free Action Comes From Inside  Self-determination theory: perspective on freedom of action, builds on intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation. Deci and Ryan: people may be motivated to perform well out of a deep passion for excellence or because of a bribe, they may behave honestly because of a deep moral sense or because they feel others are watching them, etc. Basically motivation can come from the inside or the outside. Doing something to satisfy external pressures is felt to be less free than acting from one’s inner promptings. People have an innate need for autonomy.  Having an Out, vs. No Escape  Panic Button Effect: believing that one has an escape option (produced by perceived freedom). o Eg: experiment described in class with loud noises while participants did puzzles, and a panic button given to half which would “stop” the noise.  Believing that you have free will means that you think that you have some control over your life, which may reduce stress. QUIZ: 1. People who believe in free will are more _____ than people who do not. a. Antisocial b. Extraverted c. Prosocial d. Introverted 2. According to self-determination theory, people need to feel that activities are motivated by ____. a. External factors b. Internal factors c. Global factors d. Specific factors 3. What type of motivation leads to the best goal outcomes? a. Achievement b. Extrinsic c. Attitude d. Intrinsic 4. Believing that one can exert control over stressful events makes them more tolerable, even if one has no control. This is called the _____. a. Certainty effect b. Planning fallacy c. Panic button effect d. Status quo bias Goals, Plans, Intentions A goal is an idea of a desired future state; it is a meaningful link between values and action.  Setting and Pursuing Goals  A person’s goals reflect both inner processes and cultural factors.  Pursuing goals involves at least 2 major steps, which involve different mental states. They are: setting goals (evaluating how difficult or feasible a goal is and deciding how much you want to pursue it), and pursuing the goal (planning what to do and carrying out those behaviours). o In the first step, positive illusions are set aside and people think critically about the goal, wanting to know both the good and the bad. In the second step, optimism and positive illusion is important.  Both the conscious and automatic system are involved in the pursuit of goals. The conscious system does much of the goal settin
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