PSYCH 2C03 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: James W. Pennebaker, Microcassette, Implicit Memory

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Published on 13 Apr 2013
McMaster University
What is social psychology: What does it try to do?
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
Obvious ways values enter
Not so obvious ways values enter
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
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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
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
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