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Chapter 1

Chapter 1socialpsychology.docx

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Jennifer Ostovich

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Chapter 1 Introduction to social psychology What is social psychology?  Social influence: we are all influenced by other people  Social influence extends beyond behaviour: includes our thoughts, feelings, and overt acts  Social influence takes on many forms other than deliberate attempts at persuasion; we are often influenced by the presence of other people even when we are not in their physical presence  Social psychologists are interested in studying how and why our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are shaped by the entire social environment  Scientific study of the way in which people’s thoughts, feeling and behaviours are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people The power of social interpretation  Social psychology is not concerned with social situations in any objective sense, but rather how people are influenced by their interpretation, or construal, of their social environment  It is more important to understand how they perceive, comprehend, and interpret the social world than it is to understand the objective properties of the social world itself  Social psychology is an experimentally based science Some alternative ways of understanding social influence Folk wisdom  Journalists, social critics, and novelists saying interesting things about these situations  “Bird of a feather flock together” and “opposites attract”; which one is correct? o Difficult to tell which folk wisdom is correct and which is wrong  Cults are very powerful Philosophy  Foundation of contemporary psychology  Social psychologists look at similar questions but scientifically  Social psychologists make hypotheses about the specific situations under which one outcome or the other would occur  The task of the social psychologist is to design well controlled experiments, sophisticated enough to tease out the situations that would result in one or another outcome Social psychology compared with sociology  Share a focus on social behaviour  One difference is the level of analysis o Social psychology is a branch of psychology, rooted in the study of individuals, with an emphasis on the psychological processes going on in their hearts and minds; the level of analysis is the individual in the context of a social situation o Sociology is more concerned with societal factors that influence events in a society; social class, social structure, and social institutions o The goal of social psychology is to identify universal properties of human nature that make everyone susceptible to social influence, regardless of social class or culture Social psychology compared with personality psychology  Personality psychologists focus on individual differences  Social psychologists take the situation into account The power of social influence  Fundamental attribution error: the tendency to overestimate the extent to which people’s behaviour stems from internal, dispositional factors and to underestimate the role of situational factors Underestimating the power of social influence  Feeling of false security  BY failing to appreciate fully the power of the situation, we tend to oversimplify
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