PSY 504 Chapter Notes -Hindsight Bias, Social Representation, Social Comparison Theory
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Social Psychology 08/09/2012 8:04:00 PM
Social Psychology: A science that studies the influences of our situations, with
special attention to how we view and affect one another. The scientific study of
how people think about, influence, and relate to one another.
It is a young science (1898)
We construct our social reality – we like to attribute behaviour to a cause or
Dual processing – conscious and subconscious – intuition – both powerful and
perilous as it can often be wrong. (Ex. Predicting feelings, trusting memories…)
We are social animals – respond to our immediate contexts and may be victims
of circumstance in our behaviours. (ex. Nazis and holocaust)
Internal forces and attitudes also matter in our decisions.
Our biology predisposes us to behave in certain ways.
Social Neuroscience: An integration of biological and social perspectives that
explores the neural and psychological bases of social and emotional behaviours.
We desire to fit in with others, and when we are excluded our self-esteem drops.
Self-esteem – a reading of how accepted we feel by others.
Social Psychology reflects the values of the times:
1940s – Studies of prejudice (Fascism)
1950s – Studies of conformity (The American Dream)
1960s – Studies of Aggression (Riots were happening)
1970s – Studies of gender and sexism (Feminist Movement)
1980s – Studies of the psychology of the arms race
1990s – Studies of Social diversity
Values differ across time and culture
Culture: The enduring behaviours, ideas, attitudes, traditions, products, and
institutions shared by a large group of people and transmitted from one
generation to the next
Social Representations: socially shared beliefs, widely held ideas and values,
including our assumptions and cultural ideologies. Our social representations
help us make sense of our world.
Psychologists hold values as well, seen when:
Defining the good life
Giving Professional Advice
Labeling - “High self-esteem” vs “Defensiveness”
Naturalistic Fallacy: the error of defining what is good in terms of what is
observable – ex. What‟s typical is normal, what‟s normal is good.
Events are far more obvious and predictable in hindsight than beforehand.
Hindsight bias: The tendency to exaggerate, after learning an outcome, one‟s
ability to have foreseen how something turned out.
Theory: An integrated set of principles that explain and predict observed events
Hypothesis: A testable proposition that describes a relationship that may exist
Operationalization: Needs to be valid and reliable
Field Research: Research done in natural, real-life settings outside the
Correlational Research: The study of the naturally occurring relationships among
Experimental Research: Studies that seek clues to cause-effect relationships be
manipulating one or more factors (independent variables) while controlling
others (holding them constant).
Random Sample: Survey procedure in which every person in the population
being studied has an equal chance of inclusion.
Things that skew experiments:
Order if the questions
Response bias and Social desirability
Wording of the questions
Independent Variables: The experimental factor that a researcher manipulates
Dependent Variables: The variable being measured, so called because it may
depend on manipulations of the independent variable.
Random Assignment: The process of assigning participants to the conditions of
an experiment such that all persons have the same chance of being in a given
Random Assignment helps us infer cause and effect, random sampling helps us
generalize to a population.
Mundane Realism: Degree to which an experiment is superficially similar to
Experimental Realism: Degree to which an experiment absorbs and involves its
Demand Characteristics: cues in an experiment that tell the participant what
behaviour is expected
Informed Consent: An ethical principle requiring that research participants be
told enough to enable them to choose whether they wish to participate
In an experiment:
Protect people from harm and significant discomfort