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Chapter 1

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYCH 2C03
Professor
Jennifer Ostovich
Semester
Fall

Description
What is social psychology: What does it try to do? Themes  We construct our social reality  Our social intuitions are often powerful but sometimes perilous (involving exposure to great danger)  Social influences shape our behaviour  Personal attitudes and dispositions also shape behaviour  Social behaviour is biologically rooted  Relating to others is a basic need  Social psychology's principles are applicable in everyday life Values  Obvious ways values enter  Not so obvious ways values enter ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Cinderella  Man had 2nd wife who was selfish, she had 2 daughters both vain and selfish  Man's own daughter- sweet and kind o Learned early in life she had to do what she was told, accept insults o Fair godmother, helped to escape and go to grand ball, met handsome prince  Folktale demands that we accept the power of the situation  Cinderella cowered at home, but walked and talked and smiled as if she were beautiful at the grand ball What is Social Psychology: What Does it Try to Do?  Jean-Paul Sartre (1946)- accepted Cinderella premise (basis of an argument, from which a conclusion is drawn)  Believes we are "first of all beings in a situation" o We cannot be distinguished from our situations--they form us and decide our possibilities Social Psychology- studies the influences of our situations, with special attention to how we view and affect one another  Focus less on differences among individuals, focus more on how individuals in general, view and affect another  More often use experimentation  Boundaries with sociology  Still a young science  First social psychology experiments were barely more than a century ago How much of our social world is just in our heads?  Social behaviour varies not just with objective (free of biases) situations, but with how we construe (interpret) it  Social beliefs -->self-fulfilling  Ex. Happily married couple vs. non-happy married couple  Happy couple--> may take partner A's acid "can't you ever put that where it goes?" and Partner B may externalize it ("he must have had a frustrating day")  Unhappy couple--> Partner B comes back with mean disposition ("is he ever hostile!"), and may counterattack Partner A  Partner B expecting hostility may behave resentfully causes Partner A to elicit hostility A expected Would you be cruel if ordered?  Nazi Germany  Occurred because thousands followed orders  Stanley Milgrim  Electric shock experiment  2/3 of participants complied To help? Or to help oneself?  Cash falling from armoured truck ($2 million) in Toronto, ON  Some motorists help return $100,000  More people stopped to help themselves  Similar incidents occurred in San Francisco, California and Columus, Ohio  Results were the same What situations trigger people to be helpful or greedy?  Does cultural context--villages and small towns breed greater helpfulness?  Social Psychology how people view and affect one another  Study attitudes and beliefs, conformity and independence, love and hate Major Themes in Social Psychology  Biology- natural selection and adaptation  Sociology- builds on concepts such as social structure and organization  Music- harnesses our ideas of rhythm, melody, and harmony What concepts are in social psychology's short list of central ideas? Fundamental principles: "behaviour is a function of the person and the situation"  We construct our social reality  Humans have irresistible urge to explain behaviour, to attribute it to some cause  Therefore make it seem orderly, predictable, and controllable  You and I may react differently  We think differently  How we react to a friend's insult  Depends on whether we attribute it to hostility or to a bad day  We are intuitive scientists  We explain people's behaviours, with enough speed and accuracy to suit our daily needs  We attribute behaviour to personality, when behaviour is consistent and distinctive  Ex. Person that repetitively uses negative comments, may then infer that person has nasty disposition and avoid that person  Beliefs about ourselves matter  Optimistic?  Do we have control over things?  Superior or inferior?  Our answers influence our emotions and actions Our Social Intuitions are Often powerful but Sometimes Perilous  Our intuitions shape our fears (is flying dangerous?), impressions (can I trust him?) and relationships (does she like me?)  Psychological science revelas unconscious mind--intuitive back-stage mind  Thinking occurs offstage (our of sight) not onstage  "automatic processing", implicit memory, heuristics, spontaneous trait inference, instant emotions and non verbal communications unveil our intuitive capacities (mental ability to know something instinctively  Thinking, memory, and attitude operate on 2 different levels Conscious and deliberate Unconscious and automatic  1&2 "Dual Processing" Intuitions are perilous  Thinking occurs off-screen, with results usually displayed on-screen  We misperceive others  Often fail to appreciate how our expectations shape our evaluations  Intuitively trust our memories more than we should  Misread our own minds o We deny being affected by things that do influence us  Misinterpret our feelings  Mispredict our own future o (buying smaller size thinking your going to lose weight when reality is that people your age gain weight therefore should buy a looser fit) Conclusion  Social intuitions are both ineffable powers and troublesome perils  Our lives empowered by secret intuitive thinking and imperiled by predictable errors Social Influences Shape our Behaviour  Aristotle -we are social animals o Speak and think words we learned from other o Long to connect, belong, and to be well thought of Matthias Mehl and James Pennebaker  UofTexas students to wear microcassette recorders and microphones  Every 12 min during their waking hours, computer-operated recorder would perceptibly record for 30 s (only weekdays)  30% of time was spent talking Conclusion  Relationships are large part of human beings  Our situations matter/ the power of situations (page 8)  Culture and ethnicity  Ideology shaped by socialism or capitalism Conclusion  We adapt to our social context  Our attitudes, behaviour are shaped by external forces Personal Attitudes and Dispositions Also Shape Behaviour  Internal forces also matter--we are not passive  Inner attitudes affect behaviour  Attitude follows behaviour  Personality dispositions affect behaviour  Under same situation, different people respond differently  Ex. Political imprisonment--A: seek rev
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