PSYC 215 Chapter Notes -Floyd Henry Allport, Muzafer Sherif, Gordon Allport

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20 Nov 2012
Social Psychology: Introduction
Key Terms
Behavioural genetics (20): a subfield of psychology that examines the role of genetic factors in behaviour
Cross-cultural research (20): research designed to compare and contrast people of different cultures
Evolutionary psychology (20): a subfield of psychology that uses the principles of evolution to
understand human social behaviour
Interactionist perspective (15): an emphasis on how both an individual’s personality and environmental
characteristics influence behaviour
Multicultural research (20): research designed to examine racial and ethnic groups within cultures
Social cognition (18): the study of how people perceive, remember, and interpret information about
themselves and others
Social neuroscience (19): the study of the relation between neural and social processes
Social psychology (5): The scientific study of how individuals think, feel and behave in regard to other
people and how individuals’ thoughts, feelings and behaviours are affected by other people
define social psychology
identify relationships with other fields
history of the field
future themes and perspectives
social interactions will probably dominate our memories because we actively seek them as a
social contexts are a huge influence on our behaviour
What is Social Psychology?
Defining Social Psychology
Scientific study: social psychology is a scientific way of understanding how people behave
How Individuals Think, Feel and Behave: social psychologists are concerned with even
unconscious beliefs, and they investigate a large variety of diverse attitudes in the individual
(rather than on group factors)
Other People The Social Element: overall, psychology is very diverse. Social psychology
examines nonsocial factors affecting people’s behavior, and people’s attitudes towards
nonsocial things when both are affected by social aspects. Even the imagined presence of others
affects individuals
Social Psychological Questions and Applications
Social psychology is about the social nature of humans
This field is very relevant to a large number f career paths
Social psychologists constantly seek knowledge and opportunities to use this knowledge
The Power of the Social Context: An Example of a Social Psychological Experiment
Even something as crucial as our identity can be influenced by thinking about other people
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STUDY: Emily Pronin, 2004. Identity bifurcation. Hypothesized that being made to think about
how other women do in math (ie badly) would cause women who did well in math to disavow
aspects of their feminine identity that stereotypically were contrary to success in math. If they
were made to think of the stereotypes, they rated themselves as being less stereotypically
feminine than women who were good at math and didn’t have the stereotype that women
aren’t good at math brought to their immediate attention. The women denied their own
femininity because it was associated with the stereotype
Social Psychology and Related Fields: Distinctions and Intersections see table 1.2 page 10
Social Psychology and Sociology: sociology focuses on a group level, where social psychology
focuses on the individual. Sociologists study the relationship between behavior and societal
variables, where social psychologists relate behavior to intermediate variables
Social Psychology and Clinical Psychology: clinical psychologists seek to understand and treat
people with psychological difficulties, and social psychology focuses on more typical things
Social Psychology and Personality Psychology: both are concerned with behavior, but
personality psychology tries to understand differences between individuals that remain
relatively stable while seeks to understand how social factors affect individuals, regardless of
Social Psychology and Cognitive Psychology: these intersect heavily, as both are concerned with
how people think, remember, behave and reason, however for social psychologists, it’s with
respect to social information
Social Psychology and Common Sense
People often see social psychology as equivalent to common sense, however one must
distinguish what is fact from what is myth. There are lots of things considered to be “common
sense” that have no scientific foundation, thus clearly there is not as much overlap as one would
From Past To Present: A Breif History of Social Psychology
No scientific study of social psychology developed until the end of the 19th century
The Birth and Infancy of Social Psychology: 1880s-1920s
Norman Triplett often considered to be the founder of the field due to his observation that
cyclists race faster when observed
Max Ringlemann also studied the presence of others on the performance of individuals, but
though his research was also in the 1880s, it wasn’t published until 1913
Neither of these men established social psychology as a distinct field William MacDougall,
Edward Ross and Floyd Allport wrote the first textbooks on the subject, thus establishing the
A Call to Action: 1930s-1950s
Hitler possibly had the largest impact on social psychology in this era he generated loads of
controversial questions best suited to be answered by the field of social psychology
Gordon Allport helped to found the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues in 1936
Muzafer Sherif published information on how groups can heavily influence their members in the
dame year
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